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WGN-Channel 9 disappears from Dish Network during contract dispute

Chicago area Dish Network subscribers lost access to WGN-Channel 9 on Wednesday night during a contract fight between their parent companies.

The outage on the satellite TV provider affects WGN and 163 other Nexstar-owned stations in 115 markets across the country. Each company accuses the other of demanding unreasonable terms to renew their expired contract.

They are negotiating over fees Dish pays to Nexstar for retransmission of its stations. Nexstar also is encouraging Dish to buy access to its WGN America channel, which launched an ambitious, Chicago-based nightly newscast in September.

WGN has operated as an independent channel since dropping its affiliation with the CW network in 2016. Its offerings include Chicago’s top-rated morning newscast, the daytime talk shows of Rachael Ray and Maury Povich, and reruns of syndicated network TV comedies including “Friends” and “Last Man Standing.”

Dish Network has built a reputation as a hardball negotiator willing to drop programming rather than cave during contract fights. As a result, in recent years it has deprived its subscribers of HBO as well as several regional sports networks owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group.

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