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The satellite provider and Channel 10 have until Sunday to reach a new contract agreement.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Disputes between local television stations and cable and satellite companies have gone into summer repeats.
Dish Network subscribers could lose NBC affiliate WSLS-TV (Channel 10) from their television service on Monday unless the satellite provider and the station’s owner reach a new contract agreement.
The dispute is over retransmission consent fees, which is the money a cable or satellite company pays in order to carry stations. Media General, which owns Channel 10, and Dish face a Sunday deadline to reach a new agreement.
This is at least the fourth time in barely 13 months that a station in the Roanoke-Lynchburg market has faced the possibility of being blacked out because of disagreements over retransmission fees. Three of those negotiations involved Dish.
In February, Fox affiliate WFXR-TV (Channels 21/27) was blacked out on Dish for nearly a week before the parties came to terms one day before the Daytona 500 was televised on Fox. In December, WDBJ-TV (Channel 7) and Dish reached an agreement barely an hour before their contract expired.
In May 2012, WSLS and Cox Cable reached a last-minute agreement that kept the station on the local cable provider.
Media companies have seen growth in retransmission revenues in recent years. As technology has changed and offers stations more options for getting their content to the public, including over the Internet, media companies have had leverage in negotiations with carriers, who need the programming.
Media General reported to shareholders in April that retransmission revenues jumped $4.8 million in the first quarter, a 55 percent increase over the year before.
The companies staked out their positions in dueling news releases.
“Media General … is threatening to block DISH customers’ access to programming in the Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va., area unless DISH agrees to pay a massive price increase,” Dish spokeswoman Danielle Johnson said in a statement. “When broadcast companies raise the rates in their contracts with DISH and other pay-TV companies, the increased costs often force distributors like DISH to raise monthly subscription fees for customers.”
WSLS General Manager Leesa Wilcher said in a statement: “Our highly-rated television station is an important asset to our local community and it is unfortunate that Dish Network does not recognize our fair market value. … In the event that our station is no longer carried by Dish Network, viewers may continue to watch their local news, lifestyle and sports programs, as well as top-rated prime time and syndicated programming, using an over-the-air via antenna or by switching to an alternative pay-TV service provider.”
A Media General news release said “at this time it appears unlikely that a new agreement will be reached.”
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