Dish Network filed a complaint 10/18 against Media General, requesting that the FCC immediately require the company to negotiate in good faith to resolve a blackout that began 10/1. In the filing, Dish explains how Media General has breached its statutory duty to negotiate in good faith: “Media General’s conduct violates the Commission’s rules requiring good faith negotiation for retransmission consent rights, because, among other things, Media General failed to respond for 11 days to DISH’s last pre-blackout offer.”
Media General blocked programming from Dish customers in 17 markets after a retransmission contract expired.
“Dish customers and Media General viewers were without their shows and events for 11 days before Media General would even contact us,” said Dave Shull, Dish EVP. “We reacted with a counter offer within hours and Media General has yet to respond. Dish is asking the FCC to act expeditiously to address Media General’s bad faith, push them back to the negotiating table and submit to mediation to get programming back to consumers.”
In negotiations prior to Media General’s takedown, the Richmond, VA.-based broadcaster rejected Dish’s offer to match the rates paid by primary MVPD competitors, and additionally declined to receive the same rates Dish pays to other area broadcasters.
Dish says Media General has also tried to force it to renegotiate its completely separate deal with Young Broadcasting. Media General is making this “improper demand” as it awaits its proposed acquisition by Young Broadcasting, currently under FCC regulatory review.
Media General issued a statement regarding the retransmission complaint filed:
“This is the first time in the history of our company that Media General has failed to reach an agreement with a cable operator or satellite carrier. DISH, in contrast, has been involved in 32 take-down disputes with local broadcasters in the past three years alone, affecting more than 120 local television stations. DISH is currently involved in two other take-downs, in addition to its dispute with Media General.
We have acted in a responsive, courteous and professional manner at all times, have accommodated numerous of DISH’s requests and have negotiated in absolute good faith since we began discussions in June — not merely because of any obligation to do so, but because our own standards, and our commitments to our viewers and our communities demand nothing less.
Unfortunately, DISH would prefer to manufacture a dispute, and now ask for government intervention, for its own purposes, rather than pay us a fair, market-based rate for the value of our stations.
Despite DISH’s meritless request for government intervention, Media General will continue to negotiate in good faith so that we can return our stations to the DISH service for those viewers who remain DISH subscribers.”
Media General’s blackout affects DISH customers in the following markets:
• Augusta, Ga. – WJBF (ABC, channel 6)
• Birmingham, Ala. – WVTM (NBC, channel 13)
• Charleston, S.C. – WCBD (NBC, channel 2) and WCBDD (CW, channel 50)
• Columbus, Ga. – WRBL (CBS, channel 3)
• Columbus, Ohio – WCMH (NBC, channel 4)
• Greenville, N.C. – WNCT (CBS, channel 9) and WNCTD (CW, channel 10)
• Greenville, S.C. – WSPA (CBS, channel 7) and WYCW (CW, channel 62)
• Hattiesburg, Miss. – WHLT (CBS, channel 22)
• Jackson, Miss. – WJTV (CBS, channel 12)
• Mobile, Ala./Pensacola, Fla. – WKRG (CBS, channel 5)
• Florence-Myrtle Beach, S.C. – WBTW (CBS, channel 13)
• Providence, R.I. – WJAR (NBC, channel 10)
• Raleigh-Durham, N.C. – WNCN (NBC, channel 17)
• Roanoke-Lynchburg, Va. – WSLS (NBC, channel 10)
• Savannah, Ga. – WSAV (NBC, channel 3)
• Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. – WFLA (NBC, channel 8)
• Tri-Cities, Tenn. area – WJHL (CBS, channel 11)