For the First Time in Its 40-Year History HBO Goes Dark on a Major Distributor

Nov 1, 2018  •  Post A Comment

“For the first time in its 40-plus-year history, a blackout will keep HBO off the air of one of its biggest distributors,” Variety reports. “The signal for the AT&T-owned channel went dark on satcaster Dish and its sister virtual MVPD service Sling TV as of midnight Thursday. Dish alone represents 2.5 million subscribers for HBO.”

The report quotes a statement from an HBO spokesman saying: “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.”

Dish offered its own take with Andy LeCuyer, senior VP of programming for Dish, saying: “Plain and simple, the merger created for AT&T immense power over consumers. 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.”


  1. Who is performing the blackout? HBO or Dish?

  2. Dish is blacking them out because they do not have a valid agreement with HBO, so if they didn’t, they would face legal repercussions.

    Sort of like saying YOU slowed down because you saw the police officer ahead with the RADAR gun.

  3. Being a CATV engineer, that is incorrect. HBO and just about every network transmits their signal scrambled and encrypted, a 2 tier protection. Those codes are given only when and agreement between the distributor and the network is reached. Then the codes are provided to the distributor to unscramble and de-crypt the signal then to apply their encryption over their satellite system to be ultimately de-crypted at the user satellite receiver. When and agreement is not reached, the network like HBO removes the scramble and de-crypt codes so the distributor only sees a black screen, so there is nothing to send to customers. HBP is doing the black-out. Just FYI.

  4. HBO, that is, is doing the black-out.

  5. More than likely, Dish was ordered by HBO to discontinue the signal until an agreement is reached. If two parties are close to an agreement, usually you can get an extension to keep the signals on.

    The big question is what is HBO asking for as far as a price increase, 5%, 10%, etc. plus it is usually a multi-year agreement with percentage increases every year for the duration of the contract. Of course HBO isn’t mentioning what they want for an increase.

    Dish apparently has determined the % increase is unreasonable and is trying to fight the increase so they don’t have to pass the cost on to their customers.

    I have seen some companies want a 100% percent increase over the duration of 5 year contract. Not saying that is what is happening here but obviously Dish has determined the HBO terms are not reasonable to Dish.

  6. As HTL as stated, HBO certainly has the capabilities of terminating or de-authorizing the HBO signals they are sending to Dish. However, just a few years ago, the company that I work for was involved in a down to the wire contract negotiation where we were being told that WE had to shut off the signal, by the provider. So, we had technical staff at multiple headend facilities, scattered across the state, in the dead of the night, ready to pull the plug on numerous channels. So, while negotiators hammered out the final agreement, our technical staff was poised for several hours, meaning like from midnight to like 3AM, ready to terminate the signal to customers, if things didn’t work out. In the end, we did not have to shut channels off and everybody was finally told to go home. Contract negotiations, like these, can be extremely frustrating.

  7. And who does HBO belong to? AT&T!!!!

  8. I have HBO and seldom watch it. There are so many other channels to receive equal programming, I wouldn’t care if DISH never came to an agreement. However, even if DISH was able to negotiate an agreement for the same amount it is paying now, I’m willing to bet they’d raise my monthly rate.

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