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PBS Station Disappears From Dish

(March 4, 2009) WACO,TEXAS: A local PBS affiliate in Texas is gone from the Dish Network and may not reappear anytime soon, according to the Waco Tribune. Satellite providers ran in to problems in some areas keeping stations live after transitions to all-digital broadcasting, but that wasn’t the case here. It appears that KWBU-TV in Waco let its retrans agreement with Dish lapse, the Trib said.

Dish dropped KWBU in January after the two failed to negotiate a retrans agreement. The previous one expired last fall, and the two parties kept passing like ships in the night. A station executive told the Trib that the original retrans notice was sent to a CEO who had already left the station to run a New Mexico PBS affiliate.

Dish then called the station in November; the interim general manager called PBS, which made recommendations then carried out by KWBU. Dish’s reply was said to come on New Year’s Eve, when station personnel were on vacation, and by the next day, KWBU was dropped from Dish. DirecTV still carries the station, and it’s still available digitally over the air.

More people called about the Dish drop then about the DTV transition.

“We have contacted our attorney in Washington, D.C., and he’s contacted their attorney,” KWBU interim general manager Clare Paul told the Trib. “Right now, it’s legal talking to legal. We are very frustrated.”

Dish, for its part, said KWBU did not renew retrans and failed to elect must-carry, its other option to be distributed by the satellite provider.