Dish, Media General Reach TV Deal Ending 47-Day Blackout

Agreement comes after broadcaster's merger with Young Broadcasting

Dish Network and Media General announced Saturday that they reached an agreement for carriage of the broadcaster’s TV stations in 17 markets across the U.S., which have been dark on the satcaster since Oct. 1.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Deal comes after Media General on Nov. 12 completed the its merger with Young Broadcasting, combining Media General’s 18 stations and Young’s 13 stations, reaching 16.5 million TV households.

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 — and the satellite company filed a formal complaint with the FCC accusing Media General of not negotiating in good faith.

Dish also claimed Media General rejected Dish’s offer of a short-term contract extension until the merger was completed with Young Broadcasting, with which Dish has a long-term agreement in place.

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

Other recent high-profile retrans spats have included the monthlong CBS and Showtime blackout on Time Warner Cable in August. Feuding over the rising cost of programming also has affected cablers — Turner Broadcasting last month had its first-ever blackout in a contract dispute with The Washington Post. Co.’s Cable One.

The 20 Media General stations covered under the deal with 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.

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 work out a new deal.

On Dish’s earnings call this week, chairman Charlie Ergen said “cautiously optimistic” about reaching a long-term deal with Disney for ABC stations and ESPN and other cable channels, although he also reiterated that if the two companies can’t reach a satisfactory deal, he’s willing to walk away.

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