Hearst Launches ‘Shot-Clock’ For Dish Negotiations

Initiates radio and print campaigns; websites will count down duration of retrans impasse

Minutes after Dish Network pleaded with Hearst Television to end its two-week retransmission consent squabble by giving it the same deal as a larger competitor, the broadcaster announced a radio and print ad campaign to set the record straight, complete with a countdown clock on its websites for those customers who have forgotten the duration of the impasse.

Hearst Television pulled the signal of its 33 broadcast stations in 26 markets from Dish customers on March 3 after the two could not reach a retransmission consent deal. The blackout has entered its second week, a milestone that Dish acknowledged earlier Friday with its own plea to resolve the dispute by giving the satellite TV service provider the same deal as rival DirecTV.

On the same day, Hearst announced that it has begun radio and newspaper campaigns in select markets -- with plans to roll out radio advertising in additional markets -- and has launched a “countdown clock” on its stations’ websites to track the expanding duration of the impasse.

The effort follows an open letter to Dish subscribers circulated via the Hearst station websites on March 14.

“We are engaging in multiple efforts to keep our viewers informed and educated about this process,” Hearst Television president Jordan Wertlieb said in a statement.

“As for Dish’s repeated and false claims of financial offers, Dish is clearly misguiding its customers,” Wertlieb added.   “As is customary for companies seeking to protect disclosure of their confidential information to competitors, we cannot disclose the terms of our DirecTV deal to Dish. The question is, why is Dish not offering to Hearst what Dish has surely agreed to pay to other broadcasters?

“Lastly, we have never left the negotiating table,” Wertlieb said “We remain, as always, ready to continue serious negotiations.”