Media General has told the FCC that it won't tolerate being lowballed in retransmission consent negotiations, that Dish is the one whose conduct has been irresponsible, and that Dish's complaint against the broadcaster for not negotiating in good faith should be dismissed and Dish itself referred to the Enforcement Bureau for aubse of process and misrepresentations.
Media General, which has been in a protracted carriage fight with Dish (the stations went dark Oct. 1) , was responding to Dish's formal complaint against it for allegedly violating the requirement that retrans negotiations be conducted in good faith.
"Reaching fair retransmission consent agreements is crucial to Media General's ability to maintain the high level of local service it provides as it faces rising costs and increasing competition," said Media General in the filing. "Although refusing consent for carriage to providers like Dish is extremely distasteful, when MVPDs refuse to compensate Media General fairly for carriage of its signals, they endanger the future quality of service to all Media General's customers.
The FCC has an open proceeding on more specifically defining what constitutes good faith negotiations, but new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said this week he would have to do his own analysis of the issue before deciding what authority the FCC has to intervene in carriage disputes.
Dish filed its complaint Oct. 18, saying Media General had failed to respond to Dish's last offer before their retrans blackout. "There could not be clearer evidence of bad faith than when a broadcaster post-blackout refuses to even negotiate," Dish said.
"DISH stands by the substance of our Complaint, and hopes that Media General will decide to negotiate in good faith and do a market-based deal to return their stations to our customers," said R. Stanton Dodge, DISH EVP and general counsel.