The satellite MVPD’s latest retransmission consent impasse involves television group Media General, and in the course of the dispute, it has asked for FCC intervention. NAB notes that if anything, Dish comes before the FCC with very dirty hands.
Dish asked the FCC to order Media General to negotiate in good faith. It claims Media General was unresponsive for a period of 11 days and needs a push back to the negotiating table, which it wants the FCC to provide.
For its part, Media General says this is the first impasse in its history – ever – noting that it is Dish who is a veteran of such incidents, having been in 32 involving 120 broadcast stations during the past three years.
NAB doesn’t see any reason to be surprised at Dish’s behavior. In a statement, NAB said, “NAB generally does not comment on specific carriage negotiations between broadcasters and pay TV providers, except to note that broadcasters deserve fair compensation for the most-watched programming on television. It is noteworthy that no broadcaster has ever been found to have acted in bad faith in a retransmission consent negotiation, yet DISH Network has previously been found to have abused the process. Moreover, DISH has been involved in roughly 50 percent of all retransmission consent impasses in the last two years.”
NAB noted many instances of judges and FCC officials dismayed by the behavior of Dish (sometimes referred to as Echostar) and its counsel.
For example, Judge Christopher Boyko said on 9/20/10 in a case involving Fun Dish Inc., “In the seventeen years I have presided as a Judge, I have never encountered such divisiveness or contentiousness. Nor have I ever had counsel report to me that they could no longer trust the representations of opposing counsel nor engage in efforts to resolve disputes amongst themselves. It is against this backdrop that the Court feels compelled to issue sanctions.”
Judge Richard Lowe 11/3/10 accused the company of “gamesmanship” and said that in a dispute with Voom the gamesmanship backfired. Lowe also said, “In conclusion, the court notes EchoStar’s pattern of egregious conduct and questionable — and, at times, blatantly improper — litigation tactics.” He said the company’s comportment, for which it has been sanctioned in the past, “…is precisely the type of offensive conduct that cannot be tolerated by the court.”
The list goes all the way back to 8/2/01, when the FCC, referring to a case between the satcaster and Young Broadcasting, stated, “EchoStar failed in its duty of candor … We admonish EchoStar for this abuse of process and caution EchoStar to take greater care.”