If this keeps up, Dish subscribers may have no channels left to watch. On the heels of a still-unresolved carriage dispute that left eight Turner Broadcasting channels dark last month, Dish Network is squaring off against CBS Corp. And viewers are bracing themselves for another blackout.

The current agreement between CBS and Dish ends Thursday, but neither side seems to agree on how much Dish should pay to carry CBS programming, which includes some of the highest-rated shows on television. On Tuesday, CBS issued a statement accusing the satellite-TV company of engaging in stall tactics:

“Dish has been deliberately dragging its feet for months,” the network said. “Now, as the deadline nears, Dish appears willing to drop the most popular programming in its entire channel lineup because it won’t negotiate the same sort of deal that other cable, satellite and telco companies have struck with CBS. Not reaching agreements is nothing new for Dish.”

CBS has been aggressive in warning Dish subscribers that they could lose access to NFL games and comedies like “The Big Bang Theory.” In addition to running on-air promos in certain markets, the network set up a website, KeepCBS.com, in which it is encouraging viewers to contact Dish [through phone calls, emails and tweets] and urge the company not to drop the network.




In a statement last week, Dish said “only CBS can force a blackout” and insisted that it is “actively working to reach a deal before the contract expires.” The tone was somewhat different from the one Dish has adopted in its fight with Turner Broadcasting. Dish Network’s chairman, Charlie Ergen, has been downright antagonistic toward Turner, calling the disappearance of CNN, a Turner-owned network, a “non-event.” Ergen also insisted that Turner’s ratings-challenged networks are no longer must-have channels.

Of course, CBS is an altogether different animal -- it boasts that it is the No. 1 network with Dish subscribers and, for that matter, the most-watched network on television.  

But that could change if it is dropped from Dish. With 14 million subscribers, Dish is one of the largest pay-TV companies in the country. Ratings for CNN, Adult Swim and other Turner-owned networks have taken a noticeable hit since the Turner-Dish dispute began last month.

For now, the clock is ticking -- again.

Christopher Zara is a senior writer who covers media and culture. Got a news tip? Email me  here. Follow me on Twitter @christopherzara.