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Hoak Stations Dark for Dish Subs

Fourteen Hoak Media stations went dark June 6 for Dish Network subscribers as Hoak and Dish failed to come to terms on retransmission consent.

A sticking point in the negotiations, acknowledged Eric Van den Branden, president and CEO of Hoak, is Dish's controversial Hopper DVR, whose Auto Hop feature eliminates commercials.

Van den Branden would not elaborate on details of the discussion. "We're in the middle of a negotiation and there are a number of terms we haven't agreed to," he said. "It's about Dish bullying people around and I think people are tired of that."

In a statement, Dish said Hoak is seeking a "massive price increase", and acknowledged that the DVR was a central piece of the negotiation.

"Hoak doesn't respect customer control. They are telling customers they must watch commercials," said Dave Shull, senior vice president of programming at Dish. "Commercial skipping has been around since the advent of the remote control and we think Hoak has taken an incredibly hostile stance toward their viewers."

The Hoak-Dish clash over the DVR, which prompted lawsuits from multiple broadcast networks, was previously reported in The Hollywood Reporter.

Hoak's stations include WMBB Panama City (Fla.) and KALB-NALB in Alexandria (La.). A statement on read in part: "We will continue to negotiate with DISH. Unfortunately, we do not know if, or when, we will reach an agreement. In the meantime, we hope you will continue supporting local television and watch us through alternative means."

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.