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Why Fox 4 could go dark for DISH audience members starting on Saturday

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Posted at 8:31 PM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 19:52:29-04

SOUTHWEST, Fla. — With contract negotiations potentially reaching an impasse, WFTX-FOX 4 could go soon go dark for DISH satellite customers.

The E.W. Scripps Company, which owns FOX4, and the DISH Network Corporation are currently locked in contract negotiations.

The station could go dark if they don’t reach an agreement by the contract deadline at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

“After five months of negotiating with DISH and multiple contract extensions, Scripps and DISH Network may be reaching an impasse," the Cincinnati-based Scripps said in a statement.

"We hope DISH will understand the need for Scripps’ viewers to receive its local television stations given the pressing news in our communities right now, including a global pandemic, discussions around social unrest, the active political year and severe weather season. This dispute is about the distribution of our broadcast signal so we can keep our local audiences safe and informed.”

You will still be able to watch WFTX-FOX 4 News live online, over-the-air using an antenna and on your favorite streaming device.

Pay TV operators are required by Congress to pay stations for the right to distribute stations' signals to their customers. Scripps has to negotiate with each operator to get a fair price on these re-transmission rates.

When customers pay DISH, and other multi-channel service providers a monthly fee for programming, those companies pay each channel on their system a fee to include that channel in its service. That is the negotiation that is currently happening.

Scripps uses these dollars to invest in local news and journalism at each station.

Since launching its first television station in 1947 in Cleveland, Scripps has never before experienced a station blackout with any cable or satellite operator.

WFTX-FOX 4 operates in Southwest Florida and our employees live here.

We prove every day that we are here for the community – creating locally focused campaigns such as We're Open and Protecting Paradise ,as well as Rebound SWFL to help our viewers navigate our current economic crisis.

Our priority is to make sure that you are able to access the news, weather and traffic updates that support your daily life, in addition to all the great programs we know you love.

We are committed to the people, programming and technology that serve you every day – and as the industry continues to evolve, we are going to keep innovating.

It is crucial that DISH works with us so we can continue our incredibly high standards of programming.

WFTX - FOX 4 will update this story as negotiations progress.