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Raycom Channels Go Dark on Dish in 36 Markets

Sections: Source components, TVs, Video

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Raycom vs Dish NetworkI’ve been out of the loop a bit lately thanks to my dad’s knee replacement surgery this week, so I didn’t notice until today — when I was visiting him in the hospital — that there has been a battle brewing between Raycom — which is based here in Alabama and owns televisions stations all throughout the US — and Dish Network. And that battle hit an impasse that resulted in my local NBC affiliate, WSFA, going dark on Dish this morning.

Of course, both Raycom and Dish are pointing fingers at the other party, with WSFA (and other Raycom-owned stations, I would imagine) running heated editorials all but calling Dish the Devil, and Dish saying that it “offered to pay Raycom the same rates as our primary competitors; yet Raycom has stalled negotiations, refusing to accept that fair offer.”

Of particular interest to me is the fact that during WSFA’s editorial, Digital Content Manager Mark Wilder urged Dish customers to call 1-800-823-4929 and demand a refund or credit. Which struck me as odd because even if you have Dish’s cheapest package, all of your local channels come in a package for $5.99 per month. So I called Dish to ask how they would handle it if someone called asking for a credit or refund. As it turns out, that $5.99 covers nearly thirty channels in some markets, so what you’re paying for each channel is mere pennies.

“But what if…” I asked. The Dish representative explained to me that, for now, nothing would happen. Dish and Raycom are still in negotiations, and nothing would be settled in terms of refunds or credits until negotiations crumbled completely. She did mention that, in the past — like when Dish lost AMC for a while — customer service representatives offered credits for customers to download popular shows like The Walking Dead on Amazon or iTunes. And something similar is certainly possible if Raycom and Dish don’t get this ironed out by the time the new season starts.

Could it take that long, I asked? The answer: “We’re not putting a time limit on the negotiations, but we hope to get this resolved as quickly as possible and with minimal impact to our customers.”

All told, viewers in 36 markets are affected by this impasse, including:

Cleveland, Ohio (CBS); Panama City, Fla. (Fox); Montgomery, Ala. (NBC); Knoxville, Tenn. (Fox); Savannah, Ga. (CBS); Toledo, Ohio (CBS, Fox); Columbus, Ga. (ABC); Richmond-Petersburg, Va. (NBC); Cincinnati, Ohio (Fox); Jonesboro, Ark. (ABC); Tyler-Longview, Texas (ABC); Biloxi-Gulfport, Miss. (ABC); Paducah, Ky. (CBS); Honolulu, Hawaii (CBS and NBC); Tucson, Ariz. (CBS); Shreveport, La. (CBS); Baton Rouge, La. (CBS); Charlotte, N.C. (CBS); Charleston, S.C. (CBS); Ottumwa-Kirksville, Mo. (Fox); Birmingham, Ala. (Fox); Dothan, Ala. (Fox); West Palm Beach, Fla. (Fox); Augusta, Ga. (Fox); Lubbock, Texas (NBC); Lake Charles, La. (NBC); Huntsville-Decatur, Ala. (NBC); Albany, Ga. (NBC); Louisville, Ky. (NBC); Hattiesburg-Laurel, Miss. (NBC); Wilmington, N.C. (NBC and Fox); Evansville, Ind. (NBC); Columbia, S.C. (NBC); Jackson, Miss. (NBC); Florence-Myrtle Beach, Fla. (NBC); and Memphis, Tenn. (NBC).

Also affected are various CW and MyNetworkTV channels in five markets: Baton Rouge, La.; Cleveland, Ohio; Honolulu, Hawaii; Paducah, Ky.; and Richmond-Petersburg, Va.

What neither party is saying in the discussion is whether or not the negotiations broke down because of Dish’s controversial ad-skipping Auto Hop technology, but I strongly suspect that they did. My local NBC affiliate seems to be urging its customers strongly to switch to cable, but there’s also a lot of weasel language in the editorial. The same holds true for an editorial from KCBD posted at Engadget.

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  • Sgt. Bill Cody

    Shame on Raycom for their greed, this is called double dipping. Raycom stations are already getting paid by advertising dollars, now you are attempting to charge Dish an outrageous amount for something you are providing to thousands of viewers for free, those in antenna reach.
    Dish is providing those of us who are not in antenna range a chance to get your stations. This is very unfair for us Dish users.
    Any increase to Dish will only be passed on to Dish customers, so actually it is your viewers who you are screwing. for a service you give to thousands for free, and are in the free airways. if this is not double dipping what is? Raycom will be the big looser in this, I will be contacting advertisers on WAFF in Huntsville Al. reminding them they are advertising on a station who are losing thousands of customers and do not care about their viewers.

  • Regenia

    OK…..here’s my issue…..the customer’s are the ones having to suffer. I understand that Dish is having a dispute with Raycom but what is Dish willing to do for their customers???? I have two accounts with Dish, contracts up on both and I am considering cancelling along with about a dozen people here in the office that I work with. Will Dish customers get a discount on their bill since we can’t get these channels? This is not our fault.
    Also, another BIG issue I have you are constantly offering NEW customers all these
    great start up package deals. What about your current customers. I’m sorry but the $5 off your bill each month just doesn’t cut it. Why not offer long time customers the same specials you offer new??

    • Dennis Burger

      You’re totally right on that, Regenia. As I said in my post about CBS vs. Aereo the other day, “…as is the case with most political squabbles, We the People end up losing.”

      My advice for you would be twofold. Do what I did and 1) call Raycom then 2) call Dish. Granted, the calls I made (or in the case with Raycom, attempted to make) were to dig for more information. But express your displeasure with both, because the only innocent party here is you. You’ll notice in the Raycom editorials, they’re saying that the fees they’re trying to make Dish pay are “fundamentally the same” as the fees they charge other carriers. What they’re apparently leaving out is that they want Dish to pay more than the other carriers. It’s still a fee, so I guess it is “fundamentally the same,” but I strongly suspect that Dish is being punished here for its Auto Hop technology.

      On the other hand, Dish could eat those fees, not pass them along to you, the viewer, and still make a hefty profit. Especially when you consider that Dish doesn’t charge customers in the LA market anymore for their thirty local channels than it charges me here in Montgomery for my eight local channels. The carrier fees must be pretty close to insignificant in the grand scheme of things for that to be the case.

      So call. Complain. Ask both parties what can be done. The more pressure that Raycom and Dish both get from their customers, the more likely they are to come to an agreement soon.

      After all, Dish and AMC worked out their differences just in time for the return of The Walking Dead. And I think that had a lot to do with customer pressure. If enough customers call, I seriously imagine they’ll have this worked out by the start of the new season.

  • kathy

    Why is it that only DISH customers are effected by this..my parents are getting channel 19 just fine thru there cable company…seems totally bogus to me

    • Dennis Burger

      Kathy, each carrier has to negotiate its re-transmission fees with the networks individually, and it came time for Dish to negotiate with Raycom. Oddly, though, it seems that Raycom wants Dish to pay more than what the other carriers are — at the very least — currently paying.

      That could mean one of several things. Either 1) Raycom intends to go up on its re-transmission fees for all of its carriers or 2) it’s singling Dish out. If it’s the former, most carriers will probably just pay the higher fees and raise their customers’ bills. If it’s the latter, nobody is telling why. But I strongly suspect that if that’s the case, what we’re seeing is an alternative attack on Dish for its Auto Hop technology, since litigation hasn’t worked.

  • Laurie Acker

    Please put kltv back on dish. We miss all our shows on abc. Thank u so much

    • Dennis Burger

      Laurie,

      Call KLTV and call Dish Network. Express your displeasure with both parties. The more pressure they get from customers, the more likely they are to resolve this quickly.