Grant TV stations go dark on DISH

By on Feb, 22 2013 with Comments 0

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Stations in four smaller DMAs are now missing from the DISH Network lineup. They belong to group owner Grant Communications, and the service outage is over the failure of the two companies to agree on a new transmission consent contract.

DISH says that Grant is demanding triple the amount it received in under the older contract, while Grant contends it is merely asking what is becoming the standard rate.

Typically, stations that have older consent agreements are receiving such a small amount under the old agreement that a relatively small increase can still carry a gaudy percentage. A Grant representative in the Roanoke-Lynchburg DMA told Allbritton’s ABC WSET that the difference that led to the service disruption amounted to pennies.

Grant stations include:
Huntsville AL: WZDX Fox/MNT
Quad Cities IA: Fox KLJB, CW KGCW
Roanoke-Lynchburg VA: Fox WFXR, CW WWCE
La Crosse-Eau Claire WI: Fox WLAX, satellite WEUX

The Huntsville station (which carries MNT fare on a digital side channel it calls WAMY) issued a statement to its viewers:

“To our loyal FOX 54 and WAMY viewers who are Dish subscribers.  We earnestly thank you for your patience and support during our negotiations with the Dish Network.  Please rest assured our entire management staffs are working around the clock, trying to come to an agreement with the Dish Network comparable to all our other cable agreements.  However, Dish continues to not answer our phone calls or meet with our negotiating team, dragging out the process at their own pace. Dish has and has always had—our full permission to air all our stations at no additional cost to them at any time they choose, even during contract negotiations. We were just as surprised as our viewers when Dish pulled our stations from their air.  The decision to do so was a decision DISH made, and theirs alone. But we will continue to work to get your FOX 54 and WAMY back to you as soon as possible! Again, our thanks for your patience, understanding and support!”

RBR-TVBR observation: Here we go again with one of the MVPD world’s serial impasse participants. Many broadcasters have become embroiled in contentious retransmission consent disputes, but the ones that lead to a service disruption can be traced for the most part to just three members of the MVPD community: Time Warner Cable, DISH, and DirecTV.

When the vast majority of retransmission consent negotiations are carried out without a disruption, and when the vast majority of the disruptions tend to include the same three companies, the conclusion is obvious: The same three companies are pushing the negotiations into the disruption.

Broadcasters and the vast majority of MVPDs are able to function in the free market without government intervention when it comes to retransmission. The FCC and Congress should not let three lonely MVPDs bully them into an unnecessary government intervention into a market process that is clearly working in almost all negotiations where one of the three is not a participant.

About The Author: RBR-TVBR has been reporting on the business of broadcasting for nearly three decades. Beholden to no one, it is independently owned.

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