Dish subscribers, do you know where your local Hearst channels have gone? Well, they are still there, but just not on your satellite service.
Yes, it’s day 26 of the fee fight between the two mega-huge companies that have left Dish viewers without broadcast affiliates in 26 Hearst markets. And there’s no end in sight for the dispute that gets a little nastier with each passing day.
Dish actually has been quiet in the last several days, but Hearst this week posted a scathing attack on the satcaster at its station web sites under the headline, “The Truth About Ongoing Negotiations With Dish.”
The notice counters recurring Dish claims such as Hearst is asking for excessive fees to carry their signals and that Hearst rejected Dish’s offer of an extension in the talks that would have prevented any blackout.
“The increase we are seeking is completely in line with what other providers are paying us and is certainly not double what DISH was previously paying. This amount is a fraction of what DISH charges viewers to watch our programming,” Hearst says in the statement.
The company later adds: “Our agreement with DISH expired at 11:59 p.m. on February 28. In hopes of reaching a fair agreement, we extended our agreement another forty-eight (48) hours, but DISH refused to offer a meaningful counter-proposal. Nonetheless, our negotiators continue efforts to reach an agreement; however, it remains clear that DISH does not intend to make a reasonable proposal.”
Hearst also says Dish is trying to “mislead” its customers and it’s responsible for 60 percent of industry blackouts in programming disputes.
Dish has not responded to the latest charges, but it’s becoming clear that the two companies are digging in their heels for a lengthy fight if necessary. With the college basketball’s Final Four tournament set to tip off this weekend, that’s particularly bad news for Dish subscribers in Des Moines and Louisville where Hearst owns the CBS affiliates.
— Phillip Swann