Slow progress in Dish/Sinclair dispute
August 20, 2015
The clock is running out again for Dish Network viewers to the 150 or so stations owned by Sinclair Broadcasting.
Last weekend, an August 15th deadline for discussions between Dish and Sinclair expired, but the two agreed to an extension for to permit negotiations to continue. However, prospects do not look good.
Baton Rouge’s WBRZ, an ABC affiliate, and while not owned by Sinclair, is included in the long-running carriage discussions with Dish.
WBRZ’s GM Rocky Davobel said they had been in discussions with Dish since June this year, was blunt in his criticism. He said Dish “pays other, considerably less popular programme providers some four times the rate the station is asking in payment for its more highly rated signal.”
Davobel said he hoped the impasse could be resolved but currently were at an impasse. He said if the station went dark on Dish Network he hoped that local viewers would tune into his over the air signals.
Another independent broadcaster which is linked to the discussions with Dish is Morgan Murphy Media, and which owns various stations in Washington State and Wisconsin. It filed a letter of complaint to the FCC on Aug 18 claiming that Dish is deliberately not negotiating in good faith.
Morgan Murphy’s complaint said: “This [Dish] tale might be more convincing if, at the very same time, Dish were not engaged in precisely the same tactic. Morgan Murphy’s contract with Dish was set to expire on July 16th 2015. Morgan Murphy sent an offer of terms to Dish on May 12th 2015. Despite repeated inquiries, Dish did not make a proposal in response until June 25th 2015, almost six weeks later. The parties then negotiated both rates and agreement terms. Just before the contract expired, Dish agreed to an extension until August 7th 2015. The parties continued to negotiate and they agreed on a second extension to expire August 13th 2015.
“Before the expiration of that extension, Morgan Murphy offered to agree to an additional extension on terms similar to those Dish offered to Sinclair, i.e., to ‘true-up’ rates back to the beginning of the term when the parties reached agreement. Dish, however, declined to extend the agreement unless Morgan Murphy would offer a substantial and unilateral reduction in its proposed rates. Morgan Murphy offered to continue negotiations but Dish took the position that it had reached