A bitter squabble over a new retransmission fee agreement that saw two television stations owned by Dispatch Broadcast Group — the Columbus, Ohio-based operation run by the Wolfe family since 1929 — get blacked out on AT&T’s DirecTV and U-Verse lineups in Ohio’s capital city and in Indiana’s biggest market has finally ended.
According to sources close to the matter, the parties signed a three-year renewal agreement over the weekend; terms were not announced.
Dispatch’s NBC WTHR-13 in Indianapolis and CBS WBNS-10 in Columbus, Ohio, were removed — by law — from U-Verse and DirecTV carriage on Sept. 1, after it failed to reach a new agreement with Dispatch. A note appearing today on the WTHR website’s homepage states, “After reaching a fair agreement with DirecTV and AT&T U-Verse, all of your favorite programs have returned to your channel lineup.”
In a message appearing on the WTHR website that was mirrored on the WBNS website, Dispatch explained, “WTHR has completed numerous retransmission agreements in the past 12 months at fair market rates without any service interruption. Unfortunately, after offering an extension [9/1] to hopefully reach a fair market deal, the deadline to reach a fair agreement with DirecTV and AT&T U-verse has passed, resulting in the interruption of service for WTHR viewers who watch our stations on those systems. We will continue to work toward a fair agreement with DirecTV and AT&T U-verse and hope to resolve this situation as soon as possible.”
At the time, Dispatch said, “Our sincere hope is to have a reasonable and fair deal in place as soon as possible. You have our promise that we will continue to make this a top priority. WTHR has completed numerous retransmission agreements in the past 12 months at fair market rates without any service interruption.”
Yet, the length of the “blackout” of WBNS and WTHR from DirecTV and U-Verse in Columbus is one of the longest seen in 2017 — a year that will be remembered for blackouts that extend beyond those tied to natural disasters.
FROM THE RBR+TVBR ARCHIVES:
January 5, 2012