Dish Network said its customers could lose access to as many as 164 Nexstar Media Group stations in 42 states across the country if it cannot hammer out a retransmission consent agreement with the broadcaster by Dec. 2.
Nexstar is the largest local broadcast station group in the country and has properties in all the major cities, including Los Angeles (KTLA), Chicago (WGN) and Dallas (KDAF), as well as smaller markets that have been Dish’s stronghold over the past several years.
In a press release, Dish TV group president Brian Neylon said the broadcaster is demanding exorbitant rate increases for its broadcast stations as well as forcing the satellite company to carry its cable channel WGN America.
“This shocking increase is the highest we’ve ever seen,” Neylon said in a press release. “Nexstar is intentionally turning its back on its public interest obligation and instead demanding consumers pay significantly more for the channels they could receive for free over-the-air.”
On its station websites, Nexstar confirmed that Dish customers could lose access to their programming. But they stressed that their offer is fair and that the ball was in the satellite giant’s court.
“Despite our tireless efforts, Dish has refused our fair offer and is making negotiations very difficult,” Nexstar said on its station sites. “You might have seen them do this before. They will tell you it’s for your benefit, but don’t believe it. Our offer is fair. And now they hold you the subscriber hostage. It’s not right.”
Nexstar is no stranger to retrans battles. Last year about 120 of its stations went dark to AT&T DirecTV and U-verse customers. That impasse lasted nearly two months.
Dish has been more than willing to ride out long blackout periods to get favorable rates. Last year Spanish-language broadcaster Univision was dark to Dish customers for nine months weeks before a deal was reached. The satellite giant dropped premium channel HBO more than a year ago, and still hasn’t reached a deal.
Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.
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