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AT&T Blacks Out HBO, Cinemax For Dish, Sling TV Users Over Carriage Dispute

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Telecompaper: AT&T has blocked its HBO and Cinemax channels for Dish and Sling TV customers over a carriage dispute. This is the first channel blackout for HBO in its 40 years of operation. Pay-TV provider Dish and OTT services Sling TV said AT&T is making “untenable demands designed specifically to harm customers, particularly those in rural areas, as well as damage competing pay-TV providers” and that at the time of the merger, no guidelines were set in place to ensure AT&T “played fair” for HBO and Cinemax subscribers, regardless of their pay-TV provider.

Dish said AT&T is demanding it pay for a guaranteed number of subscribers, regardless of how many people actually want to subscribe to HBO. The company noted that during the arbitration process, AT&T will have to restore its channels to Dish customers. The company and Sling TV will credit customers on their bill for the time they do not receive either HBO or Cinemax. Dish added that it is also offering customers a free preview of HDNET Movies. An HBO spokesperson said in a statement: “During our forty-plus years of operation, HBO has always been able to reach agreement with our valued distributors and our services have never been taken down or made unavailable to subscribers due to an inability to conclude a deal. Unfortunately, Dish is making it extremely difficult, responding to our good faith attempts with unreasonable terms. Past behavior shows that removing services from their customers is becoming all too common a negotiating tactic for them. We hope the situation with Dish changes soon but, in the meantime, our valued customers should take advantage of the other ways to access an HBO subscription so they can continue to enjoy our acclaimed programming.”

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