Sinclair, Dish battle over retrans fees

Broadcast group threatens to yank stations off satcaster

The battlefield gets bloodier by the week as Sinclair Broadcast Group may yank its stations off satcaster Dish Network tonight in 45 U.S. cities in another scuffle over retransmission fees.

Their current retrans consent deal expires at midnight. “If the companies fail to reach an agreement on price, Dish will no longer be allowed to carry Sinclair’s signals, Dish said in a statement. “We carry more than 1,800 local broadcast stations nationwide. Sinclair is asking for more than any other station anywhere in the country,” said Dave Shull, Dish senior VP of programming. “This goes beyond pure corporate greed — it’s profoundly insensitive to the needs of the public.” Dish says higher fees will translate into higher prices for its subscribers.

“We hope Sinclair will soon embrace a more reasonable attitude about price increases, so we can keep those channels on Dish,” said Shull.

Sinclair, for its part, kept rhetoric to a minimum, saying: “Although Sinclair is continuing to negotiate with Dish over the terms of a new agreement, Sinclair believes significant doubt exists as to whether or not a new agreement will be reached with Dish.”

Sinclair, one of the nation’s largest independent broadcast groups, has affiliates of all big four broadcast nets plus CW and MyNetwork. Dish carries 70 of its stations.

Video service providers have been balking at escalating retrans fees, which have become a growing source of revenue for the broadcast industry as well as at rising affiliate fees demanded by cable networks. So far this summer, Dish has also been at war with AMC Networks, and larger rival DirecTV took on Viacom over its entire cable channel lineup.