Dish Accuses Media General of Bad-Faith Dealing in FCC Complaint

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Broadcaster's TV stations in 17 markets across the U.S. have been dark for Dish subscribers since Oct. 1

Dish Network formally appealed to the FCC to intervene in its retransmission-consent feud with Media General — whose TV stations in 17 markets have been dark on the satcaster since Oct. 1 — charging that the broadcaster has failed to negotiate in good faith.

In the complaint filed Friday, Dish asked that the FCC immediately require Media General to negotiate in good faith. The stacaster argued that Media General violated the commission’s rules requiring all parties to negotiate in good faith. Among other things, the satcaster alleges, Media General failed to respond for 11 days to Dish’s last pre-blackout offer.

Media General said Dish’s claims were without merit. “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,” the company said in a statement.

A rep in the FCC’s Media Bureau declined to comment.

The previous deal between Dish and Media General was set to expire June 30. The companies extended that for 90 days but still failed to come to terms, and the broadcaster’s stations went dark on Dish at midnight Oct. 1.

“Dish customers and Media General viewers were without their shows and events for 11 days before Media General would even contact us,” Dish exec VP Dave Shull said in a statement. “We reacted with a counteroffer 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.”

Media General said that instead of negotiating, “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.”

The broadcaster continued, “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.”

According to Dish, in negotiations prior to the blackout, Media General rejected Dish’s offer to match rates paid by primary pay-TV competitors as well as an offer to receive the same rates the satcaster pays to other area broadcasters.

Dish also claims Media General rejected Dish’s offer of a short-term contract extension until Media General is acquired by Young Broadcasting, with which Dish has a long-term agreement in place. Richmond, Va.-based Media General in June announced plans to be acquired by Young Broadcasting. The combined company would own or operate 31 network-affiliated television stations in 28 markets, reaching approximately 16.5 million (or 14%) of U.S. TV households.

The Media General stations blacked out on Dish are: WVTM (NBC) in Birmingham, Ala.; WKRG (CBS) in Mobile, Ala./Pensacola, Fla.; WFLA (NBC) in Tampa, Fla.; WJBF (ABC) in Augusta, Ga.; WRBL (CBS) in Columbus, Ga.; WSAV (NBC) in Savannah, Ga.; WHLT (CBS) in Hattiesburg, Miss.; WJTV (CBS) in Jackson, Miss.; WNCT (CBS and CW subchannel) in Greenville, N.C.; WNCN (NBC) in Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; WCMH (NBC) in Columbus, Ohio; WJAR (NBC) in Providence, R.I.; WCBD (NBC and CW subchannel) in Charleston, S.C.; WBTW (CBS) in Florence/Myrtle Beach, S.C.; WSPA (CBS) and WYCW (CW) in Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C.; WJHL (CBS) in Johnson City, Tenn.; and WSLS (NBC) in Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va.

Dish — the third-largest U.S. pay TV provider after Comcast and DirecTV — had 14 million satellite TV customers as of June 30.

Separately, Dish is currently negotiating a broad programming deal with Disney, encompassing eight ABC stations, ESPN, Disney Channel and other cablers. That agreement expired Sept. 30; the companies said they reached a short-term extension while they hammer out a new deal.

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  1. Linda Setchel says:

    Dish network has caused us to lose NBC channels such as Days Of Our Lives, The Voice & many more shows. Does Dish want to lose alot of customers including us. Also Dish needs to get the DogTv channel that Direct offers. If they don’t want us & others going back to Direct, get this manner taken care of right away.
    Thank you, Linda Setchel

  2. gina britt says:

    the goverment shutdown didnt last this long. get your asses in gear and get back our free channels. cant even watch the local news. i have had dish for over 16 years maybe its time to get someone else.
    \

  3. Dena Cordes says:

    I hope this gets fixed in time for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

  4. Karen Mackey says:

    This is far too long for a blackout. Dish should give it’s subscribers a rebate for all the programming they lost. They better get something settled soon because they will lose a lot of their subscribers and forget the extra money they have to pay Media General, they are about to lose far more if the stations are returned to normal soon. I for one will be switching to another carrier if there isn’t something done by the weekend.

  5. Jim Gilmore says:

    Dish thinks they have us all by the short hairs. First they made nbcsports a pay station. Essentially blocking a lot of my programming. Now this. I’m getting an antennae as soon as my contract is up and TRASH my dish!!!!!!!

  6. Ron Nicholson says:

    it is time to switch to DIRECT . HAVE WAITED LONG ENOUGH FOR DISH TO GET OFFFFF THE POT.

  7. rd says:

    The funny thing is, media general must not know that Dish’s equipment has the ability to collect signals like a regular antenna. Some have to get a little mod to connect to the receiver but I haven’t been without any of my locals since I got it. I will never switch from dish, just simply, the customer service has always been top notch. I remember having to pay extra for my locals and then one day they told me the locals were included with all the packages. So how I look at it, I’m only paying for my non-local channels. I hope everyone at Media General is fired after the merger.

  8. SWright says:

    I’m tired of being held hostage by these companies. It’s happened with every provider I’ve had many times through the years. The consumer has zero rights and yet we are paying premium prices.

  9. J Raimondi says:

    Is the attorney general in these States especially NC going to intervene. Dish still wants us to pay full price and cannot move to Direct TV because of contractual obligations. Does Dish not have to stand by the contract also.

    The consumer is getting ripped off.

  10. Pam Stehley says:

    I am really missing ABC where I live. I miss Shark Tank, The Middle. Hope this thing gets resolved soon. I really don’t want to change providers but this is getting old.

  11. Some User says:

    It doesn’t matter how many “takedown disputes” DISH has been involved with. If Media General is unwilling to negotiate fair pricing, then whose fault is it really? “Good faith” negotiations that Media General alleges are not, “You make a huge profit, we deserve some of it, so we’re increasing our rates.” Pricing should be competitive and fair, not extorting.

  12. M says:

    This is an outrage! I was hoping for maybe two weeks of this nonsense but now I am beginning to wonder if it may take months. Yes, I get to see my CBS shows online but I am paying for and want to see my favorites on tv. Very frustrating. No alternative except to switch providers and I really like DISH. Hope is doesn’t come to that but cannot put up with this much longer.

  13. Media General has hurt customers, advertisers, and many of their tv programs that could end up cancelled due to Nielsen ratings. I am extremely upset over missing my shows on NBC and I hope Media General and all its CEO, CFO etc go bankrupt. You are hurting the little people who can only spend more money and time away from their jobs to switch providers, put up an antenna, or have to stream the show some other way. I miss Michael J. Fox, Blacklist, the Voice, Revolution, Law and Order SVU, Sunday Night Football and local news. What really stinks is we the consumers were not even given a say of whether we would pay more or not. I would pay more for NBC and you can take the Infomercials, Kevin Trudeau, and other crap off. I pay for the highest tier to get good programming like National Geographic. I have been a Directv customer in the past and they are terrible and corrupt. The 1% messing up the litttle guys again.

    • Michelle says:

      This is ridiculous, Dish is trying NOT to increase customers rates as local TV is FREE. Media General STOP BEING GREEDY, we have enough of that going on. This has got to be hurting your ratings, no one is watching NBC. Get this over with, we, the people would like our shows back THAT ARE LOCAL AND FREE in the first place.

  14. SteveO says:

    Media Gen may have hurt their advertisers more than anything, I have pretty much given up the shows I watched for other ones on competitors stations. I also have started watching Netflix more, so that may end up hurting Dish as well. If not for ESPN I would drop it all now.

  15. G says:

    Media Gen should not expect remuneration equal to that of pay for view cable channels, such as ESPN..
    which is a channel you cannot get without paying for cable or other service.
    NBC and CBS are broadcast over the public airwaves..and are free to the viewing public.
    That is a huge difference, so do not compare yourself to ESPN or HBO!
    You have found a way to charge us for free air that we own–so be staisfied with a modicum of remuneration for retransmitting such channels!.
    Do not be Greedy…
    Greed is a sin.

  16. J mcewan says:

    Greed,greed,greed, gen medid should be hung by the b**** FCC should FCC and not politic.

  17. Linda Quinn says:

    It’s clear that Media General doesn’t care about consumers or local or network advertisers. They want a big payday before they are bought by Young broadcasting. They stated on their website they will recover the revenue lost after the elections by raising rates for Dish, Direct, Verizon,etc. I hope the FCC intervenes , Media General should not be allowed to disrupt OUR service for they’re own greed..

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