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Contract dispute leaves Ohio sports fans in the dark

When companies that partner to bring people their television entertainment can't resolve a contract dispute, viewers are left without their favorite TV shows, sports and news. This makes both sides in the dispute unpopular with customers who don't see why they have to be penalized because large corporations can't arrive at a deal.

A contract dispute between Fox Sports and Dish TV, which operates the streaming service Sling TV, is leaving Cincinnati Reds fans unable to see their team's games on TV. That's because Dish and Sling pulled Fox Sports Ohio from their lineups on July 26. Fox Sports Ohio also carries the Cleveland Cavaliers games as well as the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey games.

Ohio sports fans aren't the only ones impacted. Dish also stopped carrying 20 other Fox Sports regional sports networks (RSNs).

Dish's contract with Fox Sports ended this month, and negotiations to extend it are stalled. Sports Business Journal reported that when an agreement couldn't be reached, Fox Sports "deauthorize[d] the satellite provider from carrying the channels. The issue comes down to price and flexibility."

According to a statement on the Fox Sports website, "The Fox RSNs offered to extend Dish and Sling under the current terms of our existing agreement, but Dish and Sling rejected our offer. We know fans are looking forward to the broadcasts during the stretch run of baseball season, and we hope Dish and Sling act to return this programming to their customers."

According to the Reds, before this blackout, their games' ratings on Fox Sports Ohio were the fifth-highest of all Major League Baseball teams, up almost 30% from last year.

Fox Sports Ohio and Fox's other RSNs were purchased earlier this year by Sinclair. However, the Department of Justice has yet to approve the purchase.

When companies wait until a contract is ending to start negotiating an extension, it can cause considerable problems for both sides as well as for customers, vendors and others caught in the middle. It's wise for businesses to consult with their attorneys sooner rather than later to get the ball rolling on these negotiations.

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