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Now, I don't have DISH Network. I don't even have DirecTV, so the battle that the Fox Sports regional networks are having with DISH isn't a big deal for me personally. As long as it shows up on my cable system, I'm a happy camper.
That said, it's possible some of you are affected either by the Cardinals not being on DISH or by one of the other regional networks disappearing from your TV. Being that FSMW treated us so well during our evening up there, I sent a few questions along to Geoff Goldman to get a little more info. (In the interest of balance, DISH has their own site that gives their side of the story as well, so you may want to check that out.)
C70: How long have the negotiations between DISH and Fox Sports been going on?
GG: We have been trying to negotiate a fair deal with DISH for almost six months, but DISH has been slow to respond. DISH allowed its carriage agreement with us to expire Oct. 1.
C70: This isn't just St. Louis, right, but all regional networks?
GG: Correct. It affects 19 Fox regional sports networks (not all RSNs, just those owned by Fox), FX and National Geographic Channel.
C70: What's the major sticking point?
GG: Fox is simply asking for a fair agreement that's consistent with the agreements we have with hundreds of other cable and satellite companies.
C70: What's the worst-case scenario? Could people miss all of hockey season and perhaps the start of the '11 Cardinals season?
GG: The two sides are not actively negotiating. DISH customers could miss full seasons of their NHL and NBA team, plus college football and basketball. Here in St. Louis you're talking about Blues hockey and Mizzou, Big 12 and Missouri Valley football and basketball. And as of Nov. 1, DISH customers risk losing the local Fox broadcast affiliate in some markets, including FOX 2 here in St. Louis.
As for the start of the Cardinals season, there's a long way to go until then. Fox Sports Midwest is not on DISH now and negotiations are not taking place. We've reached an impasse.
C70: Where can people go for more information?
GG: Fox Sports Midwest is offered by a number of other local distributors. For more info viewers should call 1-877-99-I-PAID or visit http://www.getwhatipaidfor.com.
My thanks to Geoff for taking some time on this issue. I'm sure he's getting these questions fairly regularly. There don't seem to be any numbers to say how many people are missing out on FSMW in the St. Louis area, though poking around a bit it seems like industry estimates are that DISH has 10-15 percent of a standard market. If that's the case in the St. Louis area, there are going to be some fed up people come March if this hasn't been resolved. It'll be interesting if people start switching off of DISH and that pressures a solution.
I'd say tune in and see, but that's really a pun beneath me.