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The two companies have two weeks to settle a contract squabble that has gone on for months.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Media General and Dish Network have two weeks to reach a new contract that would keep WSLS (Channel 10) on the air.
The two sides face a Sept. 30 deadline to hammer out an agreement over retransmission consent fees, which is the money paid by cable and satellite providers in order to carry programming. These disputes have become more common in the past two years, as station owners have increased their demands from cable and satellite companies.
Media General owns WSLS, the NBC affiliate in the Roanoke-Lynchburg market. The negotiations involve Media General stations in 17 markets.
The previous contract was set to expire in June, but the two sides agreed to a 90-day extension. If the two companies do not come to terms by the deadline, WSLS could go dark for 70,000 Dish customers in the market.
Station managers in the affected markets blitzed local media with nearly identically worded news releases Monday. The statements said that “it appears unlikely that a new agreement will be reached.” The company made the same statement in June, one day before the current contract was extended.
“Our television station has been an important part of this community for 60 years, and it is unfortunate that Dish does not recognize our fair market value,” Leesa Wilcher, WSLS’ general manager, was quoted as saying.
“Although we have successfully completed agreements with other cable and satellite operators, Dish has refused to reach a similar agreement. We continue to negotiate with Dish to reach a fair, market-based deal before our contract expires.”
Wilcher said later by telephone that she had no further information and that negotiations are being handled at the corporate level.
Dish executives did not respond to requests for comment. In June, a Dish spokeswoman said that Media General’s demands amounted to a “massive price increase” and that higher rights fees will be passed on to customers and will result in higher monthly subscription fees.
Media General stock was up more than 3 percent in Monday trading to $12.03 a share. Dish stock was down 1.6 percent to $46.94 a share.
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