The merger is now subject to an appeal initiated by the US Department of Justice seeking to overturn an earlier court ruling greenlighting it.
"DISH's proposals and actions made it clear they never meant to seriously negotiate an agreement", said Simon Sutton, HBO President and Chief Revenue Officer. Whatever the truth is, this squabble between media giants won't get the channel turned back on for paying customers until the sides figure something out, and with that case still working its way back to court in December, it could be a while. But yanking channels has become an all-too common negotiation tactic as programmers and distributors look for leverage in affiliate agreements.
That $85 billion merger transformed the Dallas-based phone company into one of the world's largest entertainment firms, with huge clout in the marketplace. HBO is part of WarnerMedia, formerly Time Warner, which is now owned by AT&T, and which also owns DISH rival DirecTV. Two months later, the Justice Department appealed the ruling. DirecTV and Dish have been struggling to hold on to customers.
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"Despite an opposing antitrust lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, AT&T acquired Time Warner, including HBO and Cinemax, earlier this year", the company said in a statement. But why is HBO not on Dish right now? Fueling the dispute is AT&T's practice of offering HBO for free to customers of its various platforms, including cellphone service.
When the clock struck midnight on Halloween, something scary happened for Dish Network's 13 million subscribers-they lost HBO and Cinemax. During a trial, Dish executives testified against AT&T, saying the merger would be anticompetitive.
"Plain and simple, the merger created for AT&T enormous power over consumers", Andy LeCuyer, Dish's senior vice president of programming, said in a statement. The fracas is the latest in a wave of programming blackouts as cable and satellite TV providers grapple with growing competition from streaming services. HBO blamed what it described as DISH's unreasonable terms for the disappearance of its channels.
Nonetheless, a person familiar with the HBO negotiations said the network offered Dish a deal extension, as well as "more favorable terms".