Judge Denies Dish Motion To Remove 17 Words From Circle City Suit Decision

WISH-TV Circle City
(Image credit: Circle City Broadcasting)

A Federal Judge denied Dish Network’s motion seeking to have 17 words describing how much Dish was willing to pay Circle City to carry its Indianapolis television stations deleted from the court's decision dismissing Circle City’s discrimination suit against Dish.

Circle City claimed that after it acquired WISH-TV and WNDY-TV from Nexstar Media Group, Dish wanted to cut how much it paid for the stations retransmission rights because Circle City was a Black-owned media company, leading to a blackout of the stations. 

In her ruling dismissing the suit, Chief Judge Tanya Walton Pratt of U.S. District Court for Southern Indiana said “Dish refused to contract with [Circle City] for the payment of fees for that right, for the longest time offering zero dollars, and at the eleventh hour offering only pennies per subscriber.“

In its motion, Dish said it wanted that last sentence redacted in order to maintain the confidentiality of documents it submitted to the court. How much distributors pay stations and networks are usually a closely held secret.

But the judge rejected the motion. “Documents that affect the disposition of federal litigation a presumptively open to public view, even if the litigant strongly prefer secrecy, unless a statute, rule or privilege justifies confidentiality,” she said. “The court intentionally wrote its summary judgment opinion in general terms and in a way that omitted any secret details.”

Circle City Broadcasting opposed the Dish motion. .

“Although Circle City lost the summary judgment motion, it is ultimately a media company,” the broadcaster said in court papers, according to WISH's website.  “It believes in the First Amendment. It believes that the basis for a public body’s decision should be available to the public.”

In dismissing Circle City’s discrimination suit against Dish, and a similar suit against DirecTV, Pratt ruled that ”there is no evidence in the record to support the claim that racial discrimination caused Dish to discriminate against Circle City or create a triable issue of fact."

Circle City owner and CEO DuJuan McCoy said he would appeal the dismissal of the discrimination suit.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.