Retrans Consent Stalemate Knocks 10 Stations Off Dish Lineup


A last-minute contract extension and cautious optimism gave way to stubborn corporate will Thursday evening as retransmission consent negotiations between Young Broadcasting and Dish Network collapsed, knocking 10 stations—including San Francisco’s KRON-TV—off the DBS provider’s lineup.

“DISH’s contract with KRON-TV4 expired on December 10, 2008,” according to a statement posted on the station’s Web site late Thursday. “KRON-TV offered a short extension of the contract to allow more time to reach a new agreement with DISH. For the past several months our company has attempted to reach a new agreement with DISH.”

“Unfortunately DISH has elected not to accept our proposal,” the statement concluded, adding that it regretted “the inconvenience that DISH has caused you” and recommended subscribers who want to receive KRON’s signal either watch the channel over-the-air, subscribe to DirecTV or a local cable system or, in some cases, access the channel via a local telephone company.

In addition to KRON, Young Broadcasting owns WLNS-TV in Lansing, Mich., WKRN-TV in Nashville, Tenn., WTEN-TV in Albany, N.Y., WRIC-TV in Richmond, Va., WATE-TV in Knoxville, Tenn., WBAY-TV in Green Bay, Wis., KLFY-TV in Lafayette, La., KELO-TV in Sioux Falls, S.D., and KWQC-TV in Davenport, Iowa.

Dish Network, in turn, blasted Young Broadcasting for “demanding unreasonable contract terms and an excessive rate increase” in a statement released to media in all 11 markets impacted by the impasse.

“To protect customers from unreasonable rate increases and to ensure they pay only a fair amount every month, Dish Network draws the line at such excess and challenges strong-arm tactics,” the DBS provider said in a statement.

“It is unfortunate that Young Broadcasting has forced us into this situation and caused this disruption to our customers,” said Eric Sahl, Dish Network’s outgoing senior vice president of programming in a prepared statement. “Our goal is to remain the best value for our customers and in order to do this, we need fair contracts with competitive pricing for the channels our customers want to watch. This is why we refuse to accept Young Broadcasting’s unreasonable terms.”

Dish Network’s contract with Young Broadcasting expired on Wednesday, Dec. 10.

Earlier in the day, Young Broadcasting stations kept Dish subscribers abreast of the retrans-consent negotiations via their individual Web sites stating that “we have made some progress in our effort to reach a new agreement with Dish” and announcing that it had extended its contract with Dish Network until 7 p.m. ET Thursday night.

But those talks failed to yield an amicable resolution.

Young Broadcasting is seeking cash compensation for carriage of its stations, a proposal that Dish Network has apparently balked at.

“The fair compensation that we are asking for as part of our contract with Dish is about a penny per day per subscriber,” read a post on KRON’s Web site. “We believe that a penny per day per subscriber is a reasonable demand for our award-winning news, sports and entertainment programming. It is considerably less than the amount paid by Dish to less popular satellite/cable networks.”

Young Broadcasting said it would "continue to work diligently in the hope that Dish will complete an agreement for carriage” of its 10 stations.

-- MCN’s Larry Barrett and Todd Spangler contributed to this report.