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Glenn Beck is back on traditional television after signing deal with Dish Network

Published: Thursday, Sept. 13 2012 9:17 a.m. MDT

U.S. TV commentator Glenn Beck gestures as he speaks in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem, Monday, July 11, 2011. Glenn Beck further expanded his media empire by signing a distribution deal with Dish Network.

Sebastian Scheiner, Associated Press

Media news personality Glenn Beck is back on traditional television after inking a deal with Dish Network that immediately makes Beck’s TheBlaze TV channel available to all Dish subscribers as a premium offering.

The New York Times — the first media outlet to report the news — emphasized the new agreement with Dish will not preclude online streaming of “TheBlaze TV, an Internet television network (which) will remain available via the Web for its 300,000 paying subscribers, including those not subscribing to Dish. But the distribution deal with Dish gives Mr. Beck, formerly a host on Fox News, a new way to reach viewers that may be adopted by other Internet entrepreneurs seeking a way into traditional television.”

In an article provocatively titled “Glenn Beck and Dish Network: The Beginning of the End For Pay TV Tyranny?” Forbes.com’s Jeff Bercovici explored the financial ramifications of the agreement between Dish and Beck: “In sheer dollar terms, the deal is big but not gigantic for Beck’s company. Dish will reportedly pay a ‘small’ per-subscriber carriage fee, which likely means 5 cents to 10 cents per month per household. In its first year, then, the agreement will yield subscription revenues of less than $16 million. … But that doesn’t reflect the increased ad revenues The Blaze will generate with the larger audience. And the Dish Network deal is only one of many Beck says he plans to make with cable and satellite operators.”

The Los Angeles Times’ Meredith Blake succinctly retraced Beck’s career moves since his departure from cable television 15 months ago: “Beck departed Fox News in June 2011 amid declining ratings for his eponymous program and allegations that he was becoming increasingly extreme in his viewpoint. A year ago exactly, he launched GBTV, an online video channel which has attracted some 300,000 paid subscribers. In June, GBTV merged with TheBlaze.com, the right-leaning news site Beck founded in 2010.”

TheBlaze will be channel 212 on Dish Network. The Wall Street Journal’s Shalini Ramachandran summarized the ways in which Dish subscribers can access the content: “The TV channel will be available on the most costly tier of Dish channels called ‘America's Top 250’ or as an extra for $5 a month for people who subscribe to cheaper tiers. The channel will not be available as a standalone subscription to Dish customers unless they subscribe to a basic package of channels. Dish customers can order it starting Thursday.”

In a blog post on GlennBeck.com, TheBlaze CEO Chritopher Balfe crowed about Beck’s ability to expand his reach and influence without compromising creative control of the final product. “We’re one of a very small number of content providers without corporate ownership,” Balfe wrote. “Even though our content may be distributed by the major cable and satellite providers, we remain a fully independent company, not subject to the demands of Wall Street, media conglomerates or pressure groups. We answer only to those who consume our content.”

As the Deseret News noted earlier this year, Beck’s influence and power consistently expanded during recent years: “In the annual Celebrity 100 list of the most powerful celebrities that Forbes released (in May), Beck ranked No. 23 with an estimated annual income of $80 million. By way of comparison, last year Beck ranked No. 30 with an income of $40 million, while in 2010 he was No. 43 on the list with estimated earnings of $35 million."

J.G. Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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