TV Answer Man, I am counting on you to tell us if there is something new with the Dish fight with my local CBS station here in the Washington area. But I also want you to comment on who’s causing this?! Who’s at fault in this. Who can we blame for real? — Claire, Fairfax, Virginia.
Claire, as you know, Dish has been without 64 Tegna-owned local network affiliates since October 6 due to a disagreement on how much Dish should pay to carry them. The list includes your local CBS affiliate, WUSA-TV, in Washington, D.C.
Let’s tackle your first question first: Is there anything new?
No. The two sides continue to do battle on social media sites, exchanging allegations over who’s to blame for the blackout. Dish and Tegna have also filed ‘bad faith’ complaints against each other with the Federal Communications Commission, but the agency has yet to act on either.
Now for question two: Who is to blame for this mess?
Since neither Dish or Tegna has released the specifics of their positions, it’s impossible to say if one company or both are being unreasonable. (Companies never publicize exact numbers in carriage disputes.)
Dish says Tegna is asking for an excessive carriage fee to increase the company’s value while it looks for a buyer.
Tegna says Dish uses programming blackouts as a device to force broadcasters to lower their fees.
There could be some truth to each statement. Tegna is now taking bids to sell the company while Dish has had more programming blackouts over the last few years than any other pay TV provider. But we don’t know if Tegna is using the Dish negotiation to try to drive up the company’s value, and we don’t know if Dish is purposely allowing this blackout to occur to cut costs.
So, Claire, I can’t answer question two. Both companies obviously share some responsibility for the blackout, but I can’t say one is more responsible than the other.
Hope that makes sense. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann