Come Wednesday at 7pm Eastern, DISH Network subscribers in Rhode Island, parts of Massachusetts, and one county in northeast Connecticut could have some difficulty tuning to their local ABC affiliate.
That’s when a carriage agreement between the DBS player and a privately held company with a name wholly familiar to radio industry veterans: Citadel Communications.
Should the poker game between the two companies continue, with no resolution by the Aug. 23 deadline, DISH has a “good guy” tact to tell: It’s been distributing no-cost digital TV antennas to subscribers in the Providence DMA as a safeguard, should it cease offering WLNE-6 to local viewers.
The impasse impacts DISH subscribers in all of Rhode Island; in Bristol County, Mass.; and in Windham County, Conn.
To little surprise, words have been flung by DISH Network blaming Citadel for the situation. In a statement, DISH EVP/Marketing, Programming and Media Sales Warren Schlichting cited Citadel’s “unbending attitude and outrageous demands” as key barriers to reaching a new deal.
As first reported by Multichannel News, DISH is demonstrating a new approach to how subscribers can use its services: Drop all local channels, use a digital antenna, and the monthly bill is chopped by $10.
The Motley Fool called this approach risky, given variances in signal strength from an in-home digital antenna. “In addition, using an antenna to get local channels is not the same experience as having them in your DISH package,” the financial news service adds. “Instead of being able to flip through all the channels you have available, the user will have to switch inputs between the satellite package and the over-the-air stations.”
Further, The Motley Fool says, “For networks like ABC, seeing consumers drop local channels in favor of getting them for free over the air jeopardizes a key source of revenue. For DISH and other providers, not having a full channel lineup runs the risk of consumers either switching to a rival that does or dropping pay-TV all together.”
Citadel Communications is led by founder and CEO Phil Lombardo, 82, and President/COO Ray Cole.
DISH shares were up 5 cents, to $56.99, as of 12:20pm Eastern on Friday.