TEGNA (formerly Gannett) and DISH go to the mattresses, but end up with new broadcast deal
The new television company TEGNA, the broadcast arm of the former company Gannett (the current Gannett is solely newspapers), went to the mattresses with DISH Network late last week and during the weekend, before finally reaching a new retransmission deal.
On Friday, DISH Network said that the TEGNA owned stations would go black, ending retransmission of TEGNA’s local channels in 38 markets across 33 states and the District of Columbia. DISH blamed TEGNA for the failure to reach a deal.
“With DISH willing to grant an extension and a retroactive true up on rates, TEGNA had nothing to lose and consumers had everything to gain by leaving the channels up,” said Warren Schlichting, DISH senior vice president of programming. “Instead, TEGNA chose to turn its back on its public interest obligations and use innocent consumers as bargaining chips.”
“TEGNA’s decision to cut ties with DISH customers is a prime example of why Washington needs to stand up for consumers and end local channel blackouts,” said R. Stanton Dodge, DISH executive vice president and general counsel. “Broadcasters like TEGNA use their in-market monopoly power to put profits ahead of the public interests they are supposed to serve.”
Of course, TEGNA’s take on the situation was a bit different, calling DISH “a serial dropper of channels.”
“TEGNA has worked hard over the course of months to reach a deal with DISH,” TEGNA said in a statement released on Friday. “Our position has been simple: the same fundamental terms that allowed us to reach deals with distributors nationwide should serve as the basis for our deal with DISH. Rather than accepting that fair, market-based approach DISH has refused to reach an agreement and once again is preventing its customers from accessing valued channels, even as customers continue to pay for that content. Despite DISH’s repeated efforts to blame programmers, the record is crystal clear – DISH is a serial dropper of channels. It has been responsible for the largest broadcast blackout in history and routinely drops valued cable and broadcast channels. TEGNA, on the other hand, has never been in this position before because we have always been able to reach fair agreements with distributors without disrupting our viewers.”
Well, sounds like irreconcilable differences, right? Well, no, just negotiating ploys.
On Sunday DISH issued a two sentence press release that said “DISH Network L.L.C., a wholly owned subsidiary of DISH Network Corporation, has reached a multi-year agreement with TEGNA for carriage of the broadcaster’s local channels in 38 markets. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.”