ENGLEWOOD, Colo.—Dish Network has announced that the Hearst Television stations have been removed from its Dish TV offerings after the two parties were unable to come to terms on a new retransmission consent deal.
The blackout impacts customers' access to 37 local channels in 27 markets.
Channels impacted by Hearst's blackout include: Alburqueque, NM (KOAT), Baltimore, MD (WBAL), Birmingham, AL (WVTM), Boston, MA (WCVB & WMUR), Burlington, VT (WNNE & WPTZ),Cincinnati, OH (WLWT), Des Moines, IA (KCCI), Fort Myers, FL (WBBH), Fort Smith, AR (KHBS & KHBSD & KHOG), Greensboro, NC (WCWG & WXII), Greenville, SC (WYFF), Harrisburg, PA (WGAL), Jackson, MS (WAPT), Kansas City, MO (KCWE & KMBC), Louisville, KY (WLKY), Milwaukee, WI (WISN), Monterey, CA (KSBW & KSBWD), New Orleans, LA (WDSU), Oklahoma City, OK (KOCO), Omaha, NE (KETV), Orlando, FL (WESH & WKCF), Pittsburgh, PA (WTAE), Portland, ME (WMTW & WPXT), Sacramento, CA (KCRA & KQCA), Savannah, GA (WJCL), Tampa, FL (WMOR), West Palm Beach, FL (WPBF).
Dish said it had been in discussions with Hearst for months working to reach an agreement to keep its channels on air for customers but was unable to reach a deal because “Hearst is demanding tens of millions of dollars in rate increases that would affect customers, while it devalues its product by making programming available elsewhere, even as viewership declines” the pay TV operator said in a press release.
"Hearst continues to raise its prices despite its declining viewership and lower-quality content," said Gary Schanman, executive vice president and group president, video services, Dish Network. "Demanding higher rates for the same entertainment and news just doesn't make sense, especially as Hearst's content is widely available on other platforms. This hurts our customers in their pocketbooks and their ability to watch the programming and content they want. Unfortunately, Hearst, like many other programmers, expects Dish and our customers to foot the bill."
Dish also described the dispute as another example of the broken pay TV system of negotiations between programmers and operators. Recently the Disney stations and channels were blacked out in a dispute with Charter and Nexstar stations remain blacked out on DirecTV.
"It's a broken system," Schanman said. "As programmers continue to hold distributors hostage, customers will end up being impacted the most. We'll continue to negotiate for a fair deal to provide the best value for our customers. Hearst is an important long-term partner for us, and we hope they'll come to a reasonable agreement and restore their channels for our customers as quickly as possible."
In response, Hearst posted a statement to viewers on the websites of its stations.
"Dish and Hearst Television have reached an impasse in negotiating a renewal retransmission consent agreement for the carriage of Hearst Television’s broadcast stations on Dish’s satellite system," the statement said. "We have made significant investments to deliver top tier programming to our viewers and DISH is seeking the right to carry our stations at below market rates, which is neither fair nor reasonable."
Hearst also urged viewers who have been impacted by the dispute to use an antenna to get the free over the air broadcasts or select another pay TV operator.
"To be clear, we have not “blacked out” our station," the statement said. "You may continue to receive our station for free, over the air, or by other satellite distribution, and, where available, from cable operators. You can determine the type of antenna needed to receive the signals of our station at http://www.antennaweb.org/."
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George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.