It’s been less than six months since HBO (and the rest of what is now called WarnerMedia) joined AT&T, and now we have our first bonafide carriage dispute. Both AT&T and Dish blamed the other for HBO and Cinemax going dark on the Dish Network and Sling TV services, in the first such tiff of HBO’s 40-year history.
Dish cited the DOJ’s case against AT&T/DirecTV purchasing Time Warner, which is now pending an appeal, and claimed that it welcomes “baseball-style arbitration” to resolve the dispute. On AT&T’s side, it said in a statement given to Reuters that “The Department of Justice collaborated closely with Dish in its unsuccessful lawsuit to block our merger” and claimed that collaboration continues with a “tactical decision” by Dish to drop HBO.
WarnerMedia claims it offered to extend the previous contract while negotiating but that Dish declined. Whatever the truth is, this squabble between media giants won’t get the channel turned back on for paying customers until the sides figure something out, and with that case still working its way back to court in December, it could be a while.