Today Dish Network the parent company of Sling TV help their 3rd quarter 2018 earnings call. During that call Dish Network’s Chairman, Charlie Ergen dived into their current fight with AT&T over HBO. According to Mr. Ergen AT&T is demanding unreasonable terms for HBO in an effort to use it as an “economic weapon”.
“This is purely an anti-competitive play that we tried to warn about” during the Justice Department’s antitrust case seeking to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger, said Ergen, speaking on Dish’s third-quarter 2018 earnings call today. “We can’t sign a deal [under which] we would actually pay for [AT&T’s] customers — and that’s what it would be.”
AT&T has been vocal that Dish is to blame for this blackout. This comes after a week of finger pointing between the two companies. When the fight started last week AT&T said “past behavior shows that removing services from their customers is becoming all too common a negotiating tactic for them,” HBO said in its statement. “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.”
Dish quickly countered with a statement of their own:
“Plain and simple, the merger created for AT&T immense power over consumers,” Dish senior VP of programming Andy LeCuyer said in a statement. “It seems AT&T is implementing a new strategy to shut off its recently acquired content from other distributors. This may be the first of many HBO blackouts for consumers across the country. AT&T no longer has incentive to come to an agreement on behalf of consumer choice; instead, it’s been given the power to grab more money or steal away customers.”
AT&T fought back last week saying Sling TV and Dish are collaborating with the DOJ to block their Time Warner merger. “The Department of Justice collaborated closely with Dish in its unsuccessful lawsuit to block our merger,” a WarnerMedia spokesman said in a statement. “That collaboration continues to this day with Dish’s tactical decision to drop HBO – not the other way around. DOJ failed to prove its claims about HBO at trial and then abandoned them on appeal.
After today’s earnings call from Dish it looks like AT&T and Dish are far from any kind of deal to bring HBO back. Both sides seem to be digging in to point fingers at each other.
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