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Fox News channels go dark on Dish as contract talks stall

The absence of those channels marks the third major blackout for Dish subscribers in recent months.

Dish Network customers lose access to pair of Fox News channels. Dish Network

Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network were pulled from Dish Network's channel lineup late Saturday after negotiations for a new distribution deal broke down.

Dish, which has for weeks been negotiating a new carriage contract for the 21st Century Fox channels, said the channels were blocked after Fox introduced fee increases for other sports and information channels not part of the original contract. The channels' removal marks the third major blackout to hit Dish subscribers in recent months.

"It's like we're about to close on a house and the realtor is trying to make us buy a new car as well," Warren Schlichting, Dish's senior vice president of programming, said in a statement. "Fox blacked out two of its news channels, using them as leverage to triple rates on sports and entertainment channels that are not in this contract."

Dish said it offered a short-term contract extension to keep the channels in its lineup, but Fox countered that Dish disconnected the channels "in an attempt to intimidate and sway our negotiations."

"It is unfortunate that the millions of Fox News viewers on Dish were used as pawns by their provider," Tim Carry, executive vice president of distribution at Fox News Channel, said in a statement. "Hopefully they will vote with their hard earned money and seek another one of our other valued distributors immediately."

Carry's statement noted that Dish negotiations for new carriage contracts with two other distributors have resulted in channel blackouts in the past two months. Dish's 14 million subscribers lost access to CNN, Turner Classic Movies, and a handful of other channels in October as the result of a contract dispute with Turner Broadcasting. The channels were restored a month later after the two agreed on an extension during ongoing negotiations.

Another contract dispute led to a brief blackout of local and network CBS programming in several markets across the country. The channels returned after a 12-hour absence when CBS (the parent company of CBS Interactive, publisher of CNET) agreed to a multiyear carriage contract that gave Dish video-on-demand rights to content from Showtime.