DISH offers free OTA antennas to handle CBS blackout issue

Dish Network SprintDISH has started offering free digital over-the-air (OTA) antennas to customers to watch local broadcast channels of CBS for free in affected markets in the wake of the CBS black out issue.

This follows CBS Corporation’s recent decision to black out DISH customers’ access to 28 local channels in 18 markets across 26 states.

CBS is blocking consumers to raise carriage rates for local channels and gain negotiating leverage for unrelated cable channels, all with declining viewership on DISH.

CBS promised to shareholders says its income will be increasing from $250 million in 2012 to $2.5 billion by 2020. DISH said DISH customers are watching less CBS, with average viewership down 20 percent over the past 3 years.

DISH said eligible DISH customers have the option to drop their local channels from programming package, saving $10 on their monthly bill.

Several eligible DISH customers in CBS markets have switched to OTA, accessing news, popular network shows and sports from CBS and other local channels for free, over the air.

Television customers with equipment, programming, and location can select to receive local channels free over the air and save $10 per month on their bill. DISH will install antenna without any fee for customers in CBS markets based on the reception available at their home.

“Switching to OTA-delivered locals can ensure $120 savings to DISH customers,” said Warren Schlichting, DISH executive vice president of Marketing, Programming and Media Sales.

“On top of free availability with an antenna, the fact that CBS makes its content available a la carte on a streaming app has further eroded the value of its content for DISH and our customers,” added Schlichting.

DISH alleges that CBS is looking for a significant price increase for local channels which are not even popular among DISH customers. CBS is attempting to force unrelated and low-performing cable channels (CBS Sports Network, Pop and Smithsonian Channel) at a premium.

Average viewership of Pop and Smithsonian Channel on CBS Sports Network fell more than 10 percent in the past 3 years, according to DISH viewership data.

DISH has demanded that the U.S. Congress should revamp the old laws that favor high fees and unnecessary blackouts.