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Fury and blame as HBO goes dark on Dish under AT&T’s watch

Fury and blame as HBO goes dark on Dish under AT&T’s watch
[Photo: Sven Scheuermeier/Unsplash]

When the clock struck midnight on Halloween, something scary happened for Dish Network’s 13 million subscribers–they lost HBO and Cinemax.

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For the first time in its 40-plus-year history, HBO is going off the air in a carriage dispute, making it unavailable for the 2.5 million people who signed up to watch Game of Thrones, Insecure, and Late Night with John Oliver on Dish, one of its biggest distributors.

And as is usually the case in a carriage dispute, everyone is pointing the finger at each other.

In a statement, an HBO spokesman noted that, “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.”

So what’s different now? For one thing, HBO is now owned by AT&T, which acquired HBO’s parent company Time Warner earlier this year and also owns Dish Network’s satellite TV rival DirecTV.

While HBO claims that Dish is “responding to our good faith attempts with unreasonable terms,” Dish puts the blame squarely with HBO’s new parent company. “Plain and simple, the merger created for AT&T immense power over consumers,” Andy LeCuyer, Dish senior vice president of programming said in a statement, warning that AT&T has “been given the power to grab more money or steal away customers” and that “this may be the first of many HBO blackouts for consumers across the country.”

Of course, Dish is known for being willing to drop channels as a negotiation tactic. In the past it has dropped Univision, CBS, Fox News, and Turner channels, including CNN.

Most consumers probably don’t really care about the reasons for the blackout, though. They are just ticked off that they can’t watch their stories on HBO, and they’re taking to Twitter to express their completely understandable rage.

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