Q. I’m happy for the DIRECTV customers that they settled their channel fight yesterday. But I am a Dish subscriber and I have been without my KTLA for weeks now. Why can’t Dish settle their differences like DIRECTV did? Are they just being stubborn or what? — Sheila, Carson, California.
Sheila, as you note, AT&T yesterday settled its 19-day fee fight with Tegna which returned the broadcaster’s 64 local TV channels to the lineups of DIRECTV and three other AT&T-owned TV services. The resolution has irked some Dish subscribers who wonder why its TV provider can’t settle its carriage dispute with 164 local TV stations (including KTLA-TV) owned by Nexstar, which began on December 2. (Dish also has eight other ongoing carriage battles.)
“How is it that @DIRECTV can have a dispute with local San Diego @CBS8 and get it resolved in a reasonable amount of time, but @dish can’t get a deal with local @fox5sandiego and for that matter can’t get any of their disputes resolved?!! #dishsucks!” ‘steviet’ tweeted yesterday.
The frustration is growing, and understandable. DIRECTV and Dish engaged in carriage disputes on almost the same day, but one somehow found a resolution while the other can not. The fact that Dish has eight other fee fights just compounds the ill feelings.
The obvious reaction would be that Dish is not interested in resolutions, at least not short-term ones. That is a bit simplistic, but there is some truth to it. Dish clearly has a strategy of dragging out these fights in the hope that the other side will ultimately lessen their demands. If that means their subscribers will be inconvenienced, so be it. Dish believes it’s worth it because it will enable it to keep prices lower than its rivals, which is the best subscriber benefit of all.
The satcaster also saves money during a fee fight because it does not have to pay the programmers while it’s not carrying their channels. That also helps Dish keep prices down.
Some Dish subscribers might point to the satcaster’s plan to raise prices in January by $5 a month on most packages. But even with that increase, Dish’s prices will still be lower than DIRECTV, and most, if not all, cable TV providers.
So if you subscribe to Dish, and you like the lower prices, there’s a reason for them. You may not like that reason, but it is what it is.
Sheila, hope that makes sense. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann