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Bonten Stations Dark on Dish

UPDATED: Station signals from Bonten Media stations are dark for Dish Network subscribers in several markets, including those from KTXS Abilene, WCTI-WFXI Greenville (N.C.) and WCYB-WEMT in the Tri-Cities (Tenn.-Va.).

It is Bonten's first-ever retrans blackout, says Randy Bongarten, company CEO.

Dish claims Bonten and operating agreement partner Esteem Broadcasting “continue to demand a 300% rate increase,” and turned down a short-term contract extension that would keep the channels on as the parties negotiate. 

Bongarten counters that Bonten did offer Dish an extension, and says Dish's payment offer is "well below" any of the deals the broadcaster has negotiated over the past few years.

“Dish has reached agreements with dozens of other broadcasters around the country in recent months, so we know with certainty that our offers have been reasonable and fair,” Dish said in a statement. “We will continue to try to reach an agreement with Bonten and Esteem, to return those local channels to Dish customers as soon as possible.”

Other affected markets are Butte-Bozeman and Missoula in Montana; Eureka and Chico-Redding, Calif.; and San Angelo, Texas.

Bongarten describes the situation as a "survival issue" for a local broadcaster meeting the demands of its network partners. "It's not an issue of choice. It's not an issue of what we would like to get," he adds. "It's what we need to get."

Dish has had numerous retransmission fights with broadcasters result in signal blackouts, including Media General, Raycom, Dispatch Broadcast Group, Grant Communications, Sarkes Tarzian and Hoak Media.