Dish today lost 14 local network affiliates owned by Apollo Global Management in a carriage dispute between the two companies.
The nation’s second largest satellite TV service said in a statement that it offered to continue the previous agreement with higher rates to keep the channels on while negotiations continued. But Dish said Apollo rejected that offer.
“We don’t understand why Apollo is choosing to put customers in the middle of its negotiations, especially during a global pandemic when customers need access to local news and programming,” said Andy LeCuyer, Dish’s senior vice president of programming. “We have offered to apply our current agreement — with higher rates — to keep their channels available and avoid any service interruption while we continue to negotiate, but they refused, demanding a 40-percent increase to rates agreed to last year. We want to come to a long-term agreement that is fair for our customers.”
However, the Apollo stations today posted a notice on their web sites saying Dish is refusing a “fair deal” to carry them.
“(The local station) has been removed from the service of DISH Network after the satellite provider refused to agree to a fair deal for a new retransmission consent agreement with Cox Media Group (the name for the subsidiary that runs the stations for Apollo),” the web notice reads. “If you are currently affected by DISH’s decision to deprive you of important local news and programming during these critical times, make your voice heard! Call DISH today at 1-800-333-3474 and demand that they get your local programming back.”
The friction between the two companies has a recent backstory. Dish and Apollo are engaged in a lawsuit over whether Dish’s previous carriage agreement for the 14 stations was prematurely ended when Apollo bought them from Cox Enterprises last year.
The satcaster obtained a restraining order preventing Apollo from ending the past agreement, but a federal court recently halted the restraining order. That action triggered today’s blackout.
The 14 Apollo stations, which are based in 10 different markets, are:
WSB-TV, Channel 2 (ABC, Atlanta, GA)
WFXT-TV, Channel 25 (FOX, Boston, MA)
WSOC-TV, Channel 9 (ABC, Charlotte, NC)
WAXN-TV, Channel 64 (IND, Charlotte, NC)
WHIO-TV, Channel 7 (CBS, Dayton, OH)
WFOX-TV, Channel 30 (FOX, Jacksonville, FL)
WFOX2-TV, Channel 32 (MNT, Jacksonville, FL)
WHBQ-TV, Channel 13 (FOX, Memphis, TN)
WFTV-TV, Channel 9 (ABC, Orlando, FL)
WRDQ-TV, Channel 27 (IND, Orlando, FL)
WPXI-TV, Channel 11 (NBC, Pittsburgh, PA)
KIRO-TV, Channel 7 (CBS, Seattle, WA)
KOKI-TV, Channel 23 (FOX, Tulsa, OK)
KMYT-TV, Channel 41 (MNT, Tulsa, OK)
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— Phillip Swann