Dish, Media General Face Retrans Deadline

June 30 Is Cutoff Date for 17 Stations in 16 Markets

About 17 Media General broadcast affiliates in 16 markets could go dark to Dish Network customers at midnight on July 1 if the satellite giant can’t reach a retransmission consent agreement.

The Media General stations are currently negotiating with the satellite giant, but both sides are hinting that the deadline could pass without a deal.

In a statement, Dish is claiming that Media General is asking for “unreasonable increases” in retrans fees for the stations. Affected are eight CBS affiliates: WRBL (Columbus, Ga).; WHLT (Hattiesburg, Miss.); WJTV (Jackson, Miss); WKRG (Mobile, Ala.); WBTW (Myrtle Beach, S.C.); WJHL (Tri-Cities, Tennessee); and WNCT and WSPA (Greenville, N.C./Spartanburg, S.C.). Another eight NBC affiliates also are in danger of going dark to Dish customers -- WVTM (Birmingham, Ala.), WCBD (Charleston, S.C.), WCMH (Columbus, Ohio), WJAR (Providence, R.I.); WNCN (Raleigh-Durham, Tenn.-area); WSLA (Roanoke-Lynchburg, Va.); WSAV (Savannah, Ga.,) and WFLA (Tampa, Fla.). Also, ABC-affiliate WJBF (Augusta, Ga.), could be affected.

In a statement on its station websites, Media General said it has been in negotiations with Dish, but has not been able to reach an agreement.

“Unfortunately, so far Dish Network has refused to reach a fair, market-based deal to carry WKRG,” the station said on its website. “By law, the deadline for reaching an agreement is 11:59 p.m. EST on June 30, 2013. If no deal is reached by the deadline, at midnight July 1, 2013, you could lose the shows, sports and local news you rely on and which you are paying for.”

Dish said it is willing to negotiate, but is looking out for its customer interests.

“We understand that our customers in these markets want the best variety of local programming; and we are working around the clock to try to make that happen,” said Dish director of programming Sruta Vootukuru in a statement, adding that Dish has offered to pay Media General the same amount its primary competitors pay for the same content.“Media General’s demand is well above market increases. Dish will continue to negotiate on behalf of our customers to keep programming fees fair and as low as possible.”