Local Dish Network customers could lose access to programming through ABC affiliate WJBF unless the satellite provider reaches an agreement on a rate increase with the broadcaster’s
parent company, Media General.
Dish is fighting what it calls “a massive price increase” as the company’s contract is up for renewal.
Media General spokeswoman Nancy Chafin said the broadcast operator is working with Dish to renegotiate terms of the contract, which is set to expire by midnight June 30.
Chafin said she couldn’t comment on the length of Media General’s contract with Dish or the rate increase other than to say that they feel the higher price is a fair market value.
Dish is the only company in contract renewal negotiations with Media General, Chafin said.
Retransmission negotiations are a common procedure, she added, and “they often do come close to the deadline.”
If a deal hasn’t been made by the end of the contract, Chafin said WJBF could “go dark” on Dish. Customers would still be able to access it through an antenna or another pay-TV provider, she said.
Messages left at Dish’s corporate communications office in Colorado were not immediately returned; however, Dish Director of Programming Sruta Vootukuru said in a statement that Media General’s “demand is well above market increases.”
“We understand that our customers in the Augusta area want their full programming, and we are working around to make that happen,” Vootukuru said. “Dish will continue to fight on behalf of our customers to keep programming fees fair and as low as possible.”
Dish customers in 15 other U.S. markets also would lose programming if a deal isn’t reached, Dish said.
Chafin said Media General will “continue to work diligently” to reach a compromise before the deadline.