With the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics less than two weeks away, tiny Lockwood Broadcast Group is urging some of its customers in Oklahoma to seek alternatives to view the contests as its retransmission consent battle with Dish Network rages on.
Four Lockwood-owned stations – KAKE-TV (ABC) in Wichita, Kans.; WHDF-TV (CW) in Florence, Ala. WCWG-TV (CW) in Lexington, N.C.; and KTEN-TV (NBC) in Ada, Okla. – went dark to Dish customers on Jan. 23. At the heart of the impasse is pricing, with Dish claiming the broadcaster is demanding exorbitant rate increases while Lockwood says it is only asking for market prices for its content and has granted several extensions to Dish to work out a deal.
News of the impasse was first reported by TVAnswerman.com
In a statement, Dish said it was hopeful that a deal could have been reached by the Jan. 23 deadline, and offered a short-term contract extension that included a retroactive true-up when new rates were agreed upon, and would preserve the ability of Dish customers to access the Lockwood stations while negotiations continued.
“With Dish willing to grant an extension and a retroactive true-up on rates, Lockwood had nothing to lose and consumers had everything to gain by leaving the channels up,” Dish senior vice president of programming Andy LeCuyer said in a statement. “Instead, Lockwood chose to turn its back on its public interest obligations and use innocent consumers as bargaining chips. Only Lockwood can choose to remove its stations from Dish’s channel lineup."
On its KTEN website, Lockwood warned that it did not believe a deal would be reached soon, and urged customers to find alternative viewing options for the Super Bowl on Feb. 4 and the Winter Olympics beginning Feb. 9. The station also characterized the impasse as a classic case of a large conglomerate taking advantage of a small town business.
“Our company is a small, family-owned broadcaster, one of the few still left in America,” Lockwood said on its KTEN website. “KTEN has been a part of Lockwood Broadcasting since 1998. Dish Network is a multi-billion-dollar company that reported revenue of $3.6 billion in just the third quarter of 2017. We think you can see where this is going.”