Dish Pulls CNN, Doesn't Think Customers Still Paying For It Are Missing Much

from the you-really-don't-want-to-buy-what-I'm-selling dept

As another shining example of the fading value proposition of traditional cable, Dish Network last month pulled all Turner Broadcasting stations (including CNN, Headline News, and Cartoon Network) from their lineup because the two sides couldn’t agree on a new retransmission fee contract. As we just got done saying, these feuds are growing more and more annoying as paying consumers not only lose access to content, but get bombarded with marketing missives as both sides try to blame the other guy for being greedy (See Turner’s website and Dish’s website).

In Dish’s case, customers have lost access to content but they’re still paying the same rates. Yet speaking this week on the company’s earnings call, Dish CEO Charlie Ergen told customers eager to watch election coverage that not only may they never get CNN back, they really shouldn’t miss it because nobody watches cable news these days anyway:

“When we take something down we?re prepared to leave it down forever. Things like CNN are not quite the product that they used to be. You can imagine: CNN down on election night would have been a disaster 15 or 20 years ago. Now there are plenty of other places for people to get news. In fact a lot of people get news not from TV but from their devices.”

While that might be true (given that CNN, like most cable news, is now more unintentional cultural satire than news), it’s odd to hear a cable exec telling people they don’t need to buy what he’s selling, especially since the majority of cable channel lineup bundles are increasingly bloated with similarly-inane content. Ergen added that while the company does listen to customers, they’re not going to here, since it’s nice that Dish will save a buck:

“If we?re not going to be in a relationship with Turner then we would not have to raise our prices next year. And that would be slightly cash positive for us from a cash flow perspective. Yes, we listen to customers. But we would save a big, big, big check from a cash flow perspective. And for those folks who don?t care about news and cartoons, we have other news and cartoon shows.”

Again, that’s probably not particularly comforting to Dish customers who are getting less content yet paying the same amount of money to Dish.

Some of this is just traditional Charlie Ergen negotiations bluster, given it’s hard to sell TV content if you tell all of the people making it to go to hell. Unlike many cable execs, Dish and Ergen do see the cord cutting writing on the wall, and are planning to launch a live Internet video service sometime before the end of the year. However, that service again relies on the good graces of the broadcasters if it’s going to survive; the same broadcasters who’ve been waging legal war against any disruptive technology that could possibly topple the traditional cable cash cow, whether it’s Dish’s automatic ad-skipping DVR or Aereo. Turner says they were originally on board with the project, but after the last month’s feuding says they’re reconsidering the green light.

Even if it’s a little ham-fisted, Ergen’s trying to make the point that the current TV ecosystem and these often bi-annual rate hikes simply aren’t sustainable. It’s the same point being made by small and mid-sized cable companies that have started to leave the cable business entirely because they can’t afford to participate, and it’s same point being made by cord-cutters who are tired of paying an arm and a leg for an ocean of crap content.

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Companies: dish, dish network, turner

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Comments on “Dish Pulls CNN, Doesn't Think Customers Still Paying For It Are Missing Much”

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Ninja (profile) says:

Aha, if Dish doesn’t have a card hidden on its sleeve it’ll just join the rest when the cable world comes collapsing down. For some reason I have the steel traction curves in my mind. I’d say that the cord cutting pressure has gone past the elastic portion right into the plastic one (like Nokia resisting the market wishes till there was no way to recover). There’s no turning back now.

I anxiously await netflix like platforms 🙂

harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

yup, and what will happen is this (not exactly verbatim, but the general flow):

CBS will cut a deal with AMC to include walking dead
then a deal will be cut to include HBOs offering so you get all three (even if you dont want all three, you wont have a choice).
and it will just continue to grow and morph until we have the exact same thing as we have now… except on the internet.

and because the only thing that actually changed was the “on the internet” part, some idiots will launch “geothermal nuclear patent party” simply because the exact same thing exists but now “on the internet” and deals will be struck and prices will go up and ta-da! the only thing thats changed is the transmission medium.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

We could see this, but how successful these services are will depend on the quality of the services. CBS All Access appears to lacking in terms of service quality, for example, and this may affect adoption. Disclaimer — this is just going by what I’ve been reading, I personally have no interest in that offering and so have never used the service myself.

I do know that the streaming services that have been provided by the various cable and TV companies have, by and large, been various degrees of bad. They’ll need to step up their game.


Re: Video killed the radio start.

Just like CNN made the newspaper obsolete, the Internet made CNN obsolete. I haven’t cared about CNN or any of the other cheap knockoffs for a long time now. If I were still a cable subscriber, I would think “good riddance to bad rubbish”.

Of course I realize that Dish will cave because Turner has a monopoly on other stuff. Dish can’t compete if it doesn’t carry that little bit of the Turner forced bundle that people actually care about.

Dish is in the same exact position as everyone of their customers.


Re: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Nah. Content providers would just want to push the same bundles on consumers directly.

The power that content providers wield in terms of wholesale bundling is why cable is such a bloody mess to begin with. Cutting out the middle man will not change anything. The crapulence we experience as consumers is largely unfiltered through the relevant middle men (cable operators).

Anonymous Coward says:

Cable TV is Expensive, increasingly unreliable as to content, and watch when we say rather than when you want, definitely ripe for an expansion in the market… by video on demand services.
The question is can and will the alternatives buy up the cable companies to supply the broadband that their customers need to access their video on demand services?

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Simple solution: Unbundle

Turner charging too much?

Pass it along to the customer. Transparently.

Drop the monthly fee by the amount paid to Turner on the old contract.

Then offer Turner’s channels a-la-carte as add-ons, for whatever Turner wants to charge.

Let the customer decide if the price is worth paying, or not.

That ought to put a lot more pressure on Turner’s pricing.

Geno0wl (profile) says:

If they were serious

If Dish were serious about the cost of Turner Broadcasting stations and really wanted to be on the consumers side they would immediately drop all their customer’s bills. I mean if they are suddenly NOT paying TBS fees and their customers are getting less content that means they shouldn’t be paying the same amount.

But shocker they are just pocketing the difference.

Guess whose side that puts me on?

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: If they were serious

They didn’t drop the price, they took the other option and replaced the lost channels with different channels at the same cost. For cartoons, they swapped Cartoon Network for NickToons and Disney Extreme, neither of which I could get before.

They aren’t just “pocketing the difference,” so guess who’s side that puts me on?

harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

Re: Did Dish just obsolete themselves?

no because dish has an advantage that neither the cable carriers and even in some cases internet and OTA have- the only thing you need is a clear view of the sky, and electricity.
the US is a lot bigger then most people realize and there are parts that satellite and/or high powered AM radio are the only broadcast services you are really going to get.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Haha. Forget CNN. Cartoon Network is the big news.

Agreed. Dish just raised their prices $5 across the board. I like to think of it as paying them $5 to kill off the bad joke of a network that CNN has become. It hurts to lose Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, though. Every time the bill comes, I’m wondering if it’s worth it to continue or if I should just go back to Comcrap.

PacW97 says:

TW and Dish both bad players...

As a Dish Customer I’ve been doing my homework on this latest carriage dispute.

Turner is a division of Time Warner, is the company looking for a buyout from AT&T. Turner according to the trade magazines is raising fees to make their buyout more leveraged. They don’t see ad revenue increasing and these increased carriage fees make their sale more likely. This is about shareholder value, not consumer value, not about Dish Network or any other network, it’s all about Time Warner’s bottom line to shareholders.

Dish can, “eat my shorts”. In my view, they are not the champion of lower rates or better service.

One of the reasons I picked up Dish was for their high definition line up. I have something in my account called HD programming for life. This means they debt my bank account for payments… Well they’ve slowly been removing those HD channels and replacing them with Standard Definition channels or not replacing them at all. Disney channels are all standard definition, they were HD until Dish had a spat with Disney over carriage fees. The VOOM channels which come from the AMC umbrella were all HD and uncut and had some interesting channels and were removed and not replaced, not even in standard definition.

Dish complains about must carry signals (local broadcast channels to the viewer)well my former hardware from Dish had an antenna connection, I could pick these stations up and DVR them, in my latest Hopper hardware they removed the antenna connection entirely and as I understand it are focusing on pushing the FCC to drop must carry signals which would mean not even using their DVR when it came time to watching ABC, CBS, NBC or even the CW. They haven’t even mentioned how this will impact consumers, just how it will impact their bottom line.

They bought Blockbuster Video and promised streaming, which does work through some of their DVRs but even those streamed movies don’t make up for other losses. The quality of those movies is poor, the selection is highly limited and in my view not worth a connection to the internet.

My prices didn’t decrease or remain flat when they removed VOOM, they didn’t decrease or remain flat when they took away Disney in high definition. Dish has spent billions on buying radio spectrum and attempts at buying mobile carriers. All that money out in my view could have paid for programming losses to the customer.

As for Turner, “eat my shorts” about sums it up too. I don’t see a focus on consumers, unless you’re a shareholder consuming their stock and lining up for a buyout from AT&T which may or may not happen.

No where in any of these negotiations past or present do I feel that consumers are the focus and that’s where cord cutting comes into play. Keep pushing me and others to cut the cord, your shareholders won’t have any value left to sell and we as actual consumers might find the cord cutting alternatives a better bargain.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: TW and Dish both bad players...

Well they’ve slowly been removing those HD channels and replacing them with Standard Definition channels or not replacing them at all.

This is a lie. Dish has been replacing all SD channels with HD channels at no extra cost. Over the last five years, I’ve had to update my channel list about twice a year as the HD channels come out and the channel lineup shifts about due to the extra channels. It’s your own damn fault if you’re too stupid to check ALL the channels to notice that they’ve moved as new HD channels cause all the channels to shift around.

The rest of your arguments are equally stupid and invalid. Local channels have long made it tough on satellite companies. I get MeTV from Albuquerque, even thought the channel from Durango is closer and better. But Albuquerque “owns” the area I live in though I never go there as it’s hours away. Dish cannot provide me a better choice because “local” broadcasters took that choice from them and me.

And the less said about your rant on the Hopper the better.

Anonymous Coward says:

I was all on Dish’s side when I read about this about reddit, but if they aren’t giving any discount to customers and are just pocketing the difference that’s a really bad PR screw up.

Also, you know which company is being too greedy by how much money can afford to spend with a PR campaign to slander their opponent’s name. Looks to me like both Turner and Dish are making too much money.

Alien Rebel (profile) says:

CNN and History

CNN is documenting the collapse of civilization. Personally, I’d never choose to cut myself off from their historic broadcasts. I mean, at the fall of the Roman Empire, the majestic buildings that once housed senates and emperors became shelter for goats for the next thousand years. CNN today is a window on living history, like having a webcam allowing you to actually see the goats that now inhabit the grand places where once intelligent and dedicated journalists worked.

I have to share my favorite CNN memory- during the Gulf war in 1990-1991, Wolf Blitzer and his CNN crew were broadcasting from their hotel roof in Saudi Arabia. It was the middle of the night, and Scud missiles of unknown payload type were reported to have impacted somewhere in the city. Word was sent up to the roof that the bomb shelter in the basement of the hotel was going to be closed and sealed. Not knowing a damned thing about nerve gas (or anything else, for that matter) Wolfie sent a crew member down to the shelter to keep it open and say that he and the rest of the CNN crew would come down, “if we see or smell anything.” (After all, who wouldn’t want to risk their own life for some dumbass that didn’t get the memo about nerve gas being colorless and odorless?) The crew member returned moments later with the news that they’d all been locked out of the shelter. Wolf’s expression was priceless, the camera capturing maybe the one instant in his life when he suddenly realized just how big a moron he truly is.

How can anyone not willingly pay serious dough for this kind of entertainment?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: CNN and History

I’ve never understood Blitzer’s appeal either, unless it simply boils down to his having an awesome name. A “blitzer” is defined as “one who blitzes”, and a “blitz” is a “sudden and powerful attack, especially involving a large aerial bombardment.” So, his very name screams “war monger”.

Alien Rebel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: CNN and History

Or his name could just be a joke, like naming a Chihuahua “T-Rex,” or “Leviathan.” (Or like proclaiming CNN to be “news” for that matter.)

While Wolf’s not exactly the archetypical raving, angry “war monger,” now that I think about it, the label fits. Lots of conflicts have resulted from the stupidity of dimwits rather than from any real maliciousness or conscious design.

Robbie Robinson says:

Dish network.

I have been a very loyal customer of dish network for a very long time. I like the news broadcasts by CNN. It is a very reliable news source, not like some of the others news organizations ( FOX) in my opinion is just a joke.

I just might think about signing up with the other company and dropping dish. one never can tell.
thank you for reading this

shane (profile) says:

Connecting the Dots

Yes, cable is for crap. But underlying this is the fact that cable is about to own the internet. I think we need not only Title 2 net neutrality, but a massive deconstruction of cable monopolies in general.

The trend now seems to be an inexorable flow towards a very small number of people owning all of telecom. And while you may like to think of that as a conspiracy theory, this is exactly what happened with satellite. They eventually maneuvered around to illegalize, not capturing the signal, but descrambling it, which protected the centralized model for global communication for another two decades.

What is key is establishing a decentralized peer to peer model. The internet is doomed. It was open as long as it took to pay for the infrastructure. Now, a small number of people own the infrastructure, and technology is going to have to evolve away from it or else we are stuck with another dead end attempt at global open communication.

anonymous says:

As an employee of dish. And a person on the Frontline, all the customers out there calling and complaing please please please keep in mind that the person on the phone with you is a human and they more than likely have dish as well and are without the same channels as you. We have family’s to support just like you. And we are only one person. Please do not take your frustration out on the agents. It is not our choice to take down channels. We can not speed these things up. Please respect the cuatomer service representatives you speak to. If an agent is not able to give you what you are asking for keep in mind they have a boss who said yes or no and if we do differently we could he fired. We are only the messenger. We have scripts to follow and polices to obide by.

Rodney says:

Pissed at Dish

I decided to cut the cord a while back, and in Nov 2014 I chose Netflix and Amazon Prime in lieu of Dish… Not only has Dish been changing programming content, but they have been charging their customers more for less with increasing subscription fees. I like many others I know, was tired of Dish bloated packages and fees… Up until cancelation they could not offer any better programing packages at reasonable or reduced rates for a loyal customer. Nor could I get the additional “free” equipment upgrades that were offered to new customers. Upon choosing to cancel service they figuratively bent over backwards to try to please and retain me as a customer… offering all sorts of discounts and “freebies” that typically are not in the customer service arsenal. Since cancelation, I received notice that my balance was past due for the amount of $18.41. An account that was on auto pay since installation. This amount was promptly paid once I discovered my account was in the rears due to an error on their part(failure to charge my authorized card the final billing amount). Today in the mail is a letter from a collections agency for said amount… some other junk mail and a trifold flyer mailer stating “We hear you’re considering Dish…” It will be a cold day in hell before I consider Dish or even mention Dish to friends or family. Hell I’ll even go out of my way to tell people I don’t know to Stay away!! They have F’ed up my spotless credit! Never Again!

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