Turner Calls Out Ergen’s ‘Antagonistic’ Comments

Turner Broadcasting CEO John Martin took exception to comments by Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen about the value of Turner’s networks to subscribers.

Dish last month took down several Turner channels, including CNN and Cartoon Network. During Dish’s earnings call on Tuesday, Ergen said that having the channels dark wasn’t having much of an affect on his business.

“It would be a little bit tougher if their original programming was a success like AMC,” Ergen said, adding that other Turner fare like reruns and even the NBA are available through other sources.

During Time Warner’s earnings call Wednesday, Martin said: “We disagreed with virtually everything he said as it related to the importance of our product as it related to his platform. We were disappointed in the very antagonistic and aggressive nature of his comments yesterday.”

Martin said Turner doesn’t understand why the networks were taken down. “We’re disappointed particularly given the fact that Dish had previously agreed to our networks’ rates and our carriage proposals weeks ago,” he said.

Turner and Dish still had some deal points to resolve, but Martin said they weren’t the kinds of issues that usually result in networks being dropped.

“To us it’s unclear exactly what the dispute with Dish is,” Martin said. “Were told by them we were taken down because we wouldn’t move an expiration date later into the year.”

Dish’s deals with Turner’s big networks, TNT and TBS expire before the end of the year.

Martin said Turner remains interested in maintaining its relationship with Dish. “We’re willing to work constructively to get a deal done in the near term,” he said.

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.