The TV Answer Man!

Bonten Slams Dish For ‘Low-Ball Offer’

Bonten Media is charging that it can not reach a new carriage pact with Dish because the satcaster is proposing to pay carriage fees “well below market value.”

Dish has been without Bonten’s 12 network affiliates since January 17 when the companies could not reach a new carriage agreement. After the blackout began, Bonten maintained that both were engaged in a “good faith” effort to settle the dispute. The broadcaster seemed careful not to criticize Dish in public.

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But in a notice posted yesterday at web sites for the Bonten stations, the broadcaster is suddenly singing a different tune.

“Bonten Media Group is continuing to negotiate with Dish toward reaching a new agreement,” the statement says. “The negotiations have not been fruitful so far because Dish is proposing terms that are well below fair market value and are not consistent with our current agreements with other cable and satellite companies.”

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Dish has not issued a comment on Bonten’s charge. TVAnswerman.com has asked the satcaster for a response and will report back here if we get one.

Update: Dish referred us to its press statement issued seven days ago in which the satcaster said Bonten refused to allow it to carry the stations temporarily while negotiations continued.

The stations that have been blacked out on Dish include: WCTB-TV, the NBC affiliate in the Tri-Cities market of Tennessee and Virginia; WEMT-TV, the Fox affiliate in the same Tri-Cities market; WCTI-TV, the ABC affiliate in Greenville, North Carolina; WFXI-TV and WTDO-TV, the Fox affiliates in Greenville and New Bern, North Carolina; and KTXS-TV, the ABC affiliate in Abilene, Texas.

Click here for a complete list of Bonten’s stations.

“In all our years working with cable and satellite providers, we have only had one disagreement…that has resulted in our (signals) being dropped. That was with Dish. Dish, on the other hand, has dropped more than 200 local TV stations in just the past two years,” Bonten says in the new web notice.

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Dish is known in the industry as being a tough negotiator in carriage talks, a stance that has sometimes triggered short-term blackouts of local stations and other channels.

— Phillip Swann