Mission Broadcasting Stations Go Dark to Dish

A Dish technician standing outside a company van.
(Image credit: Dish)

Mission Broadcasting’s television stations went dark to Dish Network subscribers earlier Friday (Sept. 11) after the company said it had failed to reach a retransmission consent agreement with the satellite TV service provider.

Dish and Mission had warned their subscribers and viewers hours earlier that they were at an impasse concerning their retrans deal. But alas, an agreement was not within reach.

Mission has shared services agreements with several Nexstar Media properties, and operates in 21 markets across the country, including Davenport, Iowa; Shreveport, Louisiana; and Burlington, Vermont.  

Dish and Mission already had a retrans battle earlier this year when stations in 18 markets went dark on Jan. 5. Those stations went back on the air in March, as part of several short-term agreements Dish made with broadcasters at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The Mission mini-deals were only supposed to last until April 13, but were extended as the pandemic worsened. 

“Mission has gone from working with us to support viewers in the communities we both serve to chasing dollar signs however they can,” Dish TV president Brian Neylon said in a press release. “Why? It’s simple. The NFL season has begun and Mission thinks they found the leverage they need. We don’t see it that way. Serving customers is a year-round commitment for us, and we won’t let them be played as pawns by a greedy broadcaster.”

Dish said it remains open to reaching an agreement with Mission that is fair to customers.

On its station websites, Mission claims that it has made a proposal that represents fair compensation for the programming it offers. 

“Despite our tireless efforts, Dish has refused our fair offer and is making negotiations very difficult," Mission said. "You’ve likely seen them do this before. It might interest you to know that Dish regularly holds their subscribers hostage in these situations, by far more than any other cable, satellite or telcom provider. They will tell you it’s for your benefit, but don’t believe it. Our offer is fair. 

The affected stations are:

KLJB Davenport-Rock Island-Moline, Iowa; KPEJ (Fox) Odessa-Midland, Texas; KMSS (Fox) Shreveport, Louisiana; KRBC (NBC) Abilene-Sweetwater, Texas; KCIT (Fox) and KCPN (MNT) Amarillo, Texas; WVNY (ABC) Bennington County, Vermont; KHMT (Fox) Billings, Montana; WVNY (ABC) Burlington, Vermont-Plattsburgh, New York; WFXP (Fox) Erie, Pennsylvania; WTVW (CW) Evansville, Indiana; KFQX (Fox) Grand Junction-Montrose Colorado; KODE (ABC) Joplin, Missouri-Pittsburg, Kansas; KASN (CW) and KLRT (Fox) Little Rock-Pine Bluff, Arkansas; KAMC (ABC) Lubbock Texas; KTVE (NBC) Monroe, Louisiana-El Dorado, Arkansas; WTVO (ABC) Rockford, Illinois; KSAN (NBC) San Angelo, Texas; KOLR (CBS) Springfield, Missouri; WAWV (ABC) Terre Haute, Indiana; WUTR (ABC) Utica, New York; KJBO (MNT) and KJTL (Fox) Wichita Falls-Lawton, Texas; WYOU (CBS) Wilkes Barre-Scranton, Pennsylvania; and WVNY (ABC) Windham County, Vermont.

Mike Farrell

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.