Pappas-Dish Joins Retrans Rows

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Yet another retransmission-consent showdown is brewing, with Pappas Telecasting threatening to pull more than one-dozen TV stations off EchoStar Communications’ Dish Network direct-broadcast satellite service this week.

Pappas -- with stations affiliated with Fox, CBS, ABC, The CW and Azteca America -- is running spots warning nearly 2 million EchoStar subscribers that they will lose 15 Pappas broadcast outlets Dec. 1.

Dec. 1 is a looming deadline in two other disputes: It’s the date when EchoStar must stop carrying distant-network TV signals, as well as the deadline for Mediacom Communications to lose carriage of TV stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group as part of an ongoing retransmission-consent flap.

“Pappas is demanding unreasonable terms and conditions,” EchoStar said in a prepared statement. “We are doing everything we can at the moment to reach a fair agreement and keep these channels on air for our customers.”

But the TV-station group said that after protracted negotiations, it has been unable to extend its carriage deal with Dish beyond its Nov. 30 expiration date. Pappas has successfully concluded retransmission-consent agreements with EchoStar rival DirecTV and the major cable companies in Pappas’ markets.

Pappas officials claimed that EchoStar is refusing to pay “market value” -- in terms of license fees of under 19 cents per month, per subscriber -- for its TV stations.

“It may surprise our Dish viewers to know that while Dish is charging them $5.99 per month just for their free local broadcast stations like the ones owned or operated by our company, Dish is unwilling to pay even a modest price -- less than 19 cents out of the $6 per month they charge their customers -- to the local stations that must spend millions of dollars to buy or to produce this programming,” Pappas chairman and CEO Harry Pappas said in a prepared statement.

“Our stations’ ratings demonstrate that our programming is of high value to our loyal viewers,” he added. “We encourage those viewers to contact EchoStar in order to make sure that their opinions are heard loud and clear.”

The stations and markets affected are KAZA/Los Angeles; KTNC/San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Calif.; KAZH/Houston; WCWG/Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem, N.C.; KMPH and KFRE/Fresno-Visalia, Calif.; KCWI/Des Moines-Ames, Iowa; KPTM and KXVO/Omaha, Neb.; KDBC/El Paso, Texas; KHGI and KTVG/Lincoln and Hastings-Kearney, Neb.; KREN/Reno, Nev.; and KPTH and KMEG/Sioux City, Iowa.

The affected stations are the local broadcast homes of popular network programs such as American Idol, 24, House,the National Football League,NCAA Footballand Basketball (including football’sBowl Championship Series),CSI, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, America’s Next Top Model, Smallville, 7th Heaven,Major League Soccer and the 2007 Super Bowl.

Pappas is advising Dish subscribers in the broadcaster’s markets to turn to cable, DirecTV, Verizon Communications’ Verizon FiOS TV or AT&T’s U-verse TV.

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