Fisher Files $1 Million Lawsuit Against Dish

TV station owner Fisher Communications has filed a $1 million break-of-contract lawsuit against Dish Network, claiming it violated the terms of its carriage agreement.

That agreement expired Dec. 17 and Fisher stations in e

ight markets were dropped from the satellite operators systems after the two sides were unable to agree on a new deal

. Fisher said Thursday that it had offered to allow Dish to continue carrying the channels until Dec. 22, citing the winter storms in the Northwest "to ensure that Dish customers in the region could continue to receive news and weather updates," but says Dish declined the invitation.

Fisher claims that Dish violated the carriage agreement when it did not pay for or retransmit KUNP-TV Portland, OR’s, signal from July 2006, when Fisher bought the station, to April 30, 2008 and for underpayment for two other stations.

Seattle-based Fisher owns 13 full-power TV stations, seven low powers and eight radio stations in Western states, which have been hard hit by a winter storm.

"Fisher Communications' lawsuit is without merit,” said Dish Network in a statement late Thursday. “They are asking for payment on a station that elected Must Carry and by statute Dish Network does not owe any money for that station. We are bewildered by their allegation that any money could be owed on a Must Carry station.

“Furthermore, Fisher has asked for over an 80 percent increase from our customers, who should not be required to 'bail out' Fisher management for underperforming stations."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.