A retransmission-consent dispute has resulted in a pair of Heritage Broadcasting Group stations in Traverse City, Mich. going dark for Dish Network subscribers.
The signals for WWTV, the CBS affiliate, and WFXQ, the Fox affiliate, were disconnected on Dec. 15 at 1:01 a.m., upon the expiration of the parties' contract.
Per usual, an increase in compensation is at the heart of the dispute.
Dish, on its www.BefairHeritage.com website, indicates that Heritage is "demanding an outrageous 'take it or leave it' fee increase of more than 500% and has completely walked away from the negotiating table. We are shocked at Heritage's unprofessional behavior and its complete lack of concern for its viewers.
"Heritage claims that it is being offered rates near the bottom of the pay scale. This is simply not true," the statement continues. "Dish Network has successfully negotiated more than 1,000 agreements with local TV stations in the past few years, including several in the past week. So we know our current offer is fair and in line with the marketplace. We are open to a fair and reasonable increase to Heritage's fees and know of no local TV station anywhere in the country receiving rates anywhere near what Heritage is demanding."
For its part, Heritage offers this statement on its website (http://www.9and10news.com/): "We apologize that your service with Dish Network has been disrupted by the removal of 9&10 News and Fox 32. We are working hard to reach a middle ground with Dish, but Dish continues to dictate the terms to any settlement. In the meantime, we suggest that all Dish subscribers request a discount on your monthly bill due to the loss of the #1 and #2 viewed networks in Northern Michigan.
We request that all your comments be directed to the parties involved in the negotiation, Heritage Broadcasting or Dish Network and not to local advertisers. Local advertisers support our communities and should not be subject to intimidation tactics."