Morgan Murphy Calls Dish on Retrans Petition

An attorney representing the owner of stations in the Madison, La Crosse-Eau Claire, Spokane and Yakima-Pasco-Richland-Kennewick TV markets was weighing in following Dish's petition to the FCC to find Sinclair guilty of not negotiating in good faith.

Dish had argued that Sinclair had denied Dish's offer of a short-term extension that would include retroactively "trueing up" the price to cover the time the signal remained on the air when new terms were reached. But Morgan Murphy Media, whose stations have been off Dish since Aug. 13, said that signal withdrawal came after Dish declined to agree to an extension that included the same "true up" offered by Morgan Murphy.

The station owners said Dish would only agree to the extension if they had agreed to a "substantial and unilateral" reduction in the retrans fee.

That would have been the third extension after the two sides agreed to an extension from the original contract termination date (July 16) to Aug. 7, and a second extension to Aug. 13.

"It is quite remarkable that DISH, having declined to agree to extend the agreement with Morgan Murphy, then argued to the Commission that declining to accept an offer of a contract extension constitutes a violation of the good faith bargaining rules. To paraphrase DISH, it has nothing to lose and consumers everything to gain from an extension...If Sinclair is found to have violated its obligation to negotiate in good faith, the same finding should be applied to DISH."

Dish did not respond directly to the suggestion it was violating its own definition of good faith bargaining, but it did send a statement about the impasse with Morgan Murphy. "Morgan Murphy Media blocked DISH customers’ access to its stations in four markets, seeking above-market rate increases double the current DISH rate," Dish said. "The broadcaster has demanded higher fees than DISH currently pays for any other station nationwide. We are actively working to negotiate an agreement that promptly returns this content to DISH’s programming lineup.”

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.