Dish, Media General Gearing Up For Retrans Battle

70 stations in 48 markets could go dark March 31

 Media General is informing Dish subscribers in 48 markets they could lose access to the broadcaster’s TV stations unless a retransmission consent deal is reached by Thursday.

About 70 Media General stations are affected, including network affiliates in San Francisco/Oakland (KRON-MyNetworkTV); Colorado Springs (KXRM-Fox); Portland (KOIN-CBS); Nashville, Tenn. (WKRN-ABC); Norfolk, Va. (WAVY-NBC); and Providence, RI (WPRI-CBS).

According to Media General, the broadcaster has given Dish six weeks of contract extensions to work out a deal to no avail. was first with the story this weekend.

Media General did not give a reason for the dispute, but retrans deals usually center around two issues – costs and digital rights.

On its station websites, Media General said it hoped to reach a deal by the March 31 deadline, but was usring customer to switch providers if a deal couldn’t be reached.

"Only Media General can force a blackout of its channels," Dish said in a statement. "Dish is actively working to reach a deal before the contract expires. Dishhas successfully negotiated agreements representing hundreds of stations in recent months that benefit all parties, including our viewers. We are unsure why Media General decided to involve customers in the contract negotiation process at a point when there is still time for the two parties to reach a mutually beneficial deal.”

Nexstar agreed to purchase Media General in January in a deal valued at $4.6 billion. Dish and others have come out against the deal,  which has no bearing on the current retransmission consent dispute.