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CBS agrees to brief extension with Dish during contract talks

A midnight programming blackout of the network's shows is avoided for Dish subscribers in 14 major markets.

A contract extension between CBS and Dish provides a reprieve for Dish subscribers who are fans of CBS' "The Big Bang Theory." Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

CBS has agreed to a short-term extension of its carriage contract with Dish Network while negotiations for a new contract continue, the network announced Thursday afternoon.

The announcement by CBS, the parent company of CBS Interactive, publisher of CNET, avoids a midnight blackout of CBS-owned television stations across the US for subscribers of the satellite TV service. CBS did not indicate the length of the extension, and Dish Network did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CBS, which according to Nielsen is the network behind half of last week's Top 10 primetime TV programs, began airing commercials last week warning Dish subscribers that they could lose access to programming. The potential blackout would have left Dish subscribers in 14 markets, including New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, without access to the network's broadcasts of NFL games and "The Big Bang Theory," the No. 1 TV program behind "Monday Night Football."

Programming blackouts have become a frequent occurrence of late in contract disputes between programming providers and subscription services. Last month, Dish's 14 million customers lost access to CNN, Turner Classic Movies and a handful of other channels as a result of a contract dispute with Turner Broadcasting.

Turner, which licenses the channels for distribution to subscription services, pulled the channels from Dish's lineup upon the expiration of its current deal with the satellite service, after the two companies were unable to negotiate renewed distribution terms. Other channels removed from Dish include Boomerang, Cartoon Network, CNN en Espanol, Headline News and truTV.

In April, after a three-month-long absence, the Weather Channel returned to DirecTV's lineup after the two companies settled their dispute over carriage fees.