WRCB Temporarily Off DISH Due To Contract Dispute

Thursday, January 10, 2019

WRCB Channel 3 is off DISH due to a contract dispute.

Station officials said, "WRCB is no longer on DISH Network. We had hoped to avoid this situation; however, our negotiations with DISH have been unsuccessful. WRCB is only asking for a fair price that is similar to other providers.

"As a DISH customer, we know you are frustrated with this situation.

Unfortunately, when we are involved in a business situation like this, it impacts you. That part is very difficult for us because that is the last thing we want to happen. We want our programming to be there for you; and, it’s not. For that, we apologize.

"Until this dispute is resolved, DISH customers will not be able to watch our award-winning local news, weather, and sports programming. DISH Customers will also miss popular NBC programming such as the NFL Playoffs, This is Us, The Voice, American’s Got Talent and many more."

DISH put the blame on Sarkes Tarzian, owner of WRCB and other stations.

DISH officials said, "This evening, Sarkes Tarzian blacked out DISH customers’ access to its local channels in two markets across four states. Sarkes is blocking consumers in an effort to gain negotiating leverage as it demands higher monthly rates for its local channels."

“To be clear, Sarkes chose to black out its own viewers. We offered an extension to keep the channels up while we reach a deal, but they refused,” said Andy LeCuyer, DISH senior vice president of Programming. “Instead, Sarkes chose to turn its back on its public interest obligations and use its viewers as bargaining chips.

 

“The channels could come back today if Sarkes would allow it, and we can restore the channels immediately if they give us the green light. On behalf of customers, we ask Sarkes to stop punishing its own viewers so we can focus on reaching a fair deal.”

 

DISH said, "In exchange for using the public airwaves, broadcasters provide their channels for free, accessible with an over-the-air antenna; however, pay-TV companies are required to pay broadcasters to provide those same channels to their customers. If the two parties do not reach an agreement, the pay-TV provider must stop delivering those stations.

 

"Each year, the cost to carry local broadcast stations rises far beyond the rate of inflation, leading to blackouts across the country that affect millions of consumers across all pay-TV companies. In the past decade, the fees Sarkes and other broadcasters charge pay-TV providers to carry local channels has risen 1,700 percent."

 

Mr. LeCuyer said, “A decade ago, a gallon of gas cost about two dollars. If gas prices had gone up like the cost to watch your local channels, that same gallon of gas today would be about 40 dollars.”

 

He said SNL Kagan, a leading source on the media industry, "broadcast fees burdening pay-TV consumers are expected to reach an unprecedented $12.8 billion in 2023. These same rates, for channels available free over the air, were as low as $215 million in 2006. With this projected 60x increase, the cost to deliver local channels is the fastest growing part of consumers’ monthly pay-TV bills.

 

"Along with other pay-TV companies and public interest groups that form the American Television Alliance, DISH has called for the U.S. Congress to revamp the out-of-date laws that favor these high fees and unnecessary blackouts."


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