Gannet set to hop off Dish


GannettThe broadcast wing of Gannett brings network programming to Dish Network MVPD services in 19 markets – but Dish’s AutoHop ad skipping device may bring that carriage to a screeching halt.

Among the DMAs affected are Atlanta GA, Washington DC, Denver CO, Minneapolis MN, Cleveland OH, Phoenix AZ, Sacramento CA, St. Louis MO, Little Rock AR, Tampa FL, Jacksonville FL, Macon GA, Bangor ME, Portland ME, Grand Rapids MI, Buffalo NY, Greensboro NC, Columbia SC, Carolina, and Knoxville TN.

The companies are also in the usual squabble over retransmission consent rates – and as usual, Dish is complaining that Gannett is seeking an unreasonable increase. Gannett says it has worked hard to come to an agreement that will bring its fees in line with going rates.

According to a message to viewers of Gannett’s CBS WUSA in Washington, the current agreement expires 10/8/12. The message includes information on consumer options to pick up WUSA should it no longer be available on Dish.

RBR-TVBR observation: Here’s why AutoHop is unfair:

Advertising is one of broadcast’s primary revenue streams, just as selling good is a primary revenue stream for a retail outlet.

For a broadcaster, the price a consumer pays for watching free content is watching a few commercial messages.

For a retailer, the price a consumer pays for taking merchandise out of a store is to pass through a checkout counter and pay for it.

Sure, watching commercials isn’t why a consumer tuned in a broadcast station, and visiting a checkout counter isn’t why a consumer went to a store.

But it makes no more sense to deprive broadcasters of commercials than it does to deprive stores of their cash registers.

So if Dish wants to offer AutoHop to its customers, it must first come to an agreement with broadcasters as to exactly how much revenue is lost due to unwatched commercial messages, and make up that amount. And if it isn’t prepared to do that, it should simply abandon AutoHop.