This will be a rough weekend for Florida sports fans who watch television over the Dish satellite network. Fox yanked all 19 of its regional sports networks -- including Fox Sports Florida and Sun Sports -- off Dish at the end of September. (FX and the National Geographic Channel were also casualties.) Among the games Dish subscribers can't see this weekend as a result are exhibition hockey matches involving the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers, exhibition basketball games with the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic, University of Florida women's soccer and volleyball, Florida and Florida State football replays, and several live SEC, Big 12 and Pac-10 games.
If this standoff continues -- and there's every appearance that it will, for weeks and possibly months -- the regular season games of the Panthers and the Heat will be wiped for Dish subscribers. And on October 31, the deal between Dish and Fox's broadcast stations ends, which means Fox-WSVN 7 will disappear.
These hardball negotiations are the industry norm these days; Fox is in a similar dispute with Cablevision, which may lose Fox cable and broadcast channels as early as Saturday morning if there's no breakthrough. Almost the entire NHL season (as well as dozens of Pac-10, Big 12, Mountain West and Ivy League football games) vanished from DirecTV last year in a seven-month fee dispute with the Versus sports channel. My advice: Find a good sports bar. You're going to need it, and not just for the sports.