Dish Network and Nexstar Media Group, the US owner of No. 1 local television network, have settled a promotion dispute that left 164 Nexstar channels and WGN America cable network off the air for more than three weeks.
The deal was announced just after 1 a.m. on Friday, Christmas Day. In a press release, Nexstar said, “We apologize for the inconvenience of our viewers and look forward to bringing them back to a leading network and local programming.”
The financial terms of the multi-year contract were not disclosed. The agreement will restore Nexstar station signals in 120 markets and 42 states for the first time since dark on December 2nd in Dish. Also, WGN America will be returned to the satellite provider, and the network will also be launched over the Internet from Dish Bundle, Sling TV, in early 2021.
The conflict had affected broadcasters serving around 5 million Dish subscribers, roughly half of the total customer base, at a time of the year when NFL and college football were broadcasting highly rated games. Dish has drawn hard lines in many negotiations over the past several years when the company switched from pay TV to wireless. HBO and Bally’s sports networks have had a long-term argument with Dish.
Known for prestige dramas a few years ago, WGN America recently turned to the news and released a nightly primetime block called NewsNation in August.
Nexstar noted in the announcement of the contract that more than 250 distribution agreements have been concluded with various partners. Together with the agreements concluded in 2019, the company has agreed to transport around 90% of its floor space by 2022.
Nexstar, which has grown into the top broadcasting group barely 20 years after starting a single radio station, acquired Tribune Media for $ 4.1 billion in 2019. That deal made it the No. 1 station owner and also gave him control of WGN America, which reaches more than 75 million households.