Retrans standoff in the heartland


This time it’s not a cable MSO, but rather Dish Network which has dropped channel carriage in a retransmission consent dispute. Citadel Communications says it has been unable to come to terms with Dish, so its four stations – ABC WOI-TV Des Moines, IA; ABC KCAU-TV Sioux City, IA; CBS WHBF-TV Quad Cities, IA-IL; and ABC KLKN-TV Lincoln, NE – disappeared from the satellite service on Friday, August 1st.

“We’re in the throes of a serious impasse with Dish,” Citadel President Ray Cole told RBR/TVBR. He notes that it is the first time that any cable or satellite company has taken down one of his company’s stations – in this case, four at once.

Taking issue with the claim of Dish Network, reportedly being transmitted repeatedly to viewers on the former satellite channel locations, that Citadel sought “exorbitant increases” in its retransmission consent fees, Cole said what his company sought reflects “the going market rate” for what Dish has been paying other broadcasters for retransmission of network affiliate stations. He was annoyed that Dish has been urging viewers to call the Citadel station stations and advertisers. In Cole’s view, there is no reason to involve viewers and advertisers in what is simply a business dispute.

Cole said Citadel submitted its retrans proposal to Dish on May 23rd, but never got a response until the week before the old agreement was due to run out at the end of July. Therefore, he rejected the idea of rolling over the old agreement until a new deal is worked out. Talks, however, are continuing.

Citadel’s four stations have posted notices on their websites advising Dish subscribers that they can still view the station for free over the air, or through cable systems or DirecTV. Cole said the current retrans agreement with DirecTV runs “well into the future.”

RBR/TVBR sought comment from Dish Network over the weekend, but has not yet received a response.