Gray To Go Dark On Dish Network?


There’s yet another retransmission deal that’s yet to be resolved involving a DBS provider, but this one doesn’t involve AT&T or DirecTV.

Gray-TelevisionAtlanta-based Gray Television announced yesterday that all of its television stations are set to fade to black on Dish Network.

That’s unless a last-minute agreement can be reached before 7pm Eastern Tuesday (1/17).

According to Gray, it was Dish Network’s decision to drop the stations.

Dish currently carries 99 separate program streams under its expiring carriage agreement with Gray.

“We are shocked and disappointed to learn that Dish Network has decided to impose yet another blackout on its customers by taking away our stations, which broadcast some of the most highly rated programming on any broadcast or cable channel in their markets,” said Kevin Latek, Gray’s Chief Legal and Development Officer.

Corporate Communication representatives at Dish Network, of course, had their own take on the situation.

“Contrary to Gray Television’s statement today, DISH has not ‘decided to stop carrying’ the broadcaster’s signals,” Dish said in a statement. “Only Gray Television can force a blackout of its channels. With a deadline of January 17, ample time remains for parties to reach an agreement or extension, and DISH is actively working to reach a deal before the contract expires.

“DISH has successfully negotiated agreements representing hundreds of stations in recent months that benefit all parties, including our viewers. Gray is simply trying to use consumers as pawns in an effort to gain leverage for their own economic benefit.”

Thus, the war of words is now on in addition to a rumble over retrans fees.

Citing the ratings of many of its stations, Gray said in a press release, “Despite the obvious popularity of Gray’s stations, Dish has refused after many months to even begin negotiating carriage terms that are consistent with those that Dish has provided to other broadcasters and cable channels.”

Gray added that it offered Dish an extension that would have continued carriage beyond the Jan. 17 deadline, but says Dish refused to accept it.

The reason for the dropping of the stations, Gray asserts, is for “perceived leverage in private carriage negotiations.”

Bonten Media, Griffin Communications, and Bonneville are other TV broadcasters that Gray says had hard negotiations with Dish.

When would a blackout end?

“It is not likely that any blackout imposed by Dish … will end soon,” Gray said, noting that Dish customers “will most likely need to switch to another pay-TV provider.”

Gray has long-term retrans agreements in place with DirecTV, Comcast Xfinity, Charter Spectrum, Cox and other local MVPDs.