Ergen: Dish Prepared to Do Without Tribune Stations

As its retransmission consent dispute with Tribune Media entered its fifth week, Dish Network chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen said the satellite company is prepared for the long haul, adding that if necessary he could do without the channels indefinitely.

About 42 Tribune Media stations in 33 markets went dark to Dish customers on June 13 after the parties could not reach a retransmission consent agreement. Dish has said Tribune is asking for exorbitant rate increases for its broadcast channels and has chafed at its attempt to include carriage of its pay TV network WGN America in negotiations. Tribune has countered that it is only asking for fair value for its content.

Both sides have offered extensions to the existing deal while they negotiate, which have been rebuffed. Dish also has offered “baseball-style” arbitration to resolve the matter, which Tribune has declined.

On a conference call with analysts to discuss second quarter results, Ergen said while he would like to resolve the dispute – which he called an “honest disagreement on pricing” – but is prepared to do without the networks if need be.