EchoStar Communications Corp. announced Thursday that it was forced to pull
the feeds for two of its local-to-local stations when retransmission-consent
talks broke down with the stations' parent, Young Broadcasting Inc.
NBC affiliate KRON4-NBC in San Francisco and ABC affiliate WKRN-ABC in
Nashville, Tenn., were pulled from EchoStar's Dish Network at midnight. An
EchoStar spokesman said retransmission-contract extensions granted by Young had
Dish viewers who tuned to the disenfranchised channels after the signals were
pulled saw a video of EchoStar chairman Charlie Ergen, who urged viewers to call
the stations and their advertisers to voice their outrage. Similar messages were
posted at the company's Web site, www.dishnetwork.com.
WKRN president and general manager Mike Sechrist said that his station was
advising callers to check out alternative means of obtaining the local signal,
whether through cable, DirecTV Inc. or off-air.
Sechrist added that while some callers were upset with the broadcaster,
others put the blame on Ergen and EchoStar, which had earlier pulled a local CBS
affiliate in Nashville from the local-to-local lineup.
Like Dish, WKRN is using the power of its own media to try to get its message
across, but Sechrist admitted that the viewers most interested in information on
the dispute no longer have access to the television signal. WKRN is warning
viewers who are contemplating signing up for Dish that its channel is not
EchoStar said it would not charge customers in Nashville or San Francisco a
monthly fee for local-to-local packages until the network signals are returned
to the lineup.
According to EchoStar press releases, 'tens of thousands' of viewers were
affected by the shut-offs in each of the two markets.
The releases claim that as a condition to retransmission consent for the two
stations in question, Young was demanding that EchoStar pay 'exorbitant' license
fees for Los Angeles-based independent station KCAL-TV, a channel Dish does not
Young has been in negotiations with EchoStar for about one year, Sechrist
said, adding that he thought the companies were well beyond any issue with KCAL.
He said the broadcasters were asking EchoStar to sign the same deal Young gave
to DirecTV, which already carries KCAL in its local package in Los Angeles.
An EchoStar spokesman said the company objects to paying the same license
fees for an independent channel as it does for a network affiliate. He added
that in San Francisco, KRON is set to lose its NBC affiliation at the end of
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