Many industry executives now believe there is no end in sight to the Dish Network-Hearst dispute, and they cite the circumstances surrounding the companies to support that conclusion.
Dish Network, Hearst Silent For Three Weeks
(Satellite Business News) — It has been three weeks since either company made any public statement about the retransmission consent stalemate that resulted in Hearst Broadcasting’s 30 local TV stations going dark on Dish Network’s DBS service.
During similar episodes over the years, silence has often meant there are intensive negotiations taking place in the hopes of reaching a deal. But many industry executives now believe there is no end in sight to the Dish Network-Hearst dispute, and they cite the circumstances surrounding the companies to support that conclusion.
As reported, the Hearst stations left Dish Network’s DBS service March 2. That makes the Dish Network-Hearst retrans impasse one the longest impacting such a large number of TV homes in recent years. Hearst owns stations many of the largest TV markets in the country, including Boston, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Tampa, New Orleans, Orlando, Cincinnati, Kansas City, West Palm Beach, and Louisville.
In the weeks since, Dish Network has said it offered to accept the same deal as AT&T’s DirecTv DBS service reached with Hearst during the retrans stalemate between those two companies that left DirecTv customers without the Hearst stations in January. But a number of executives believe Dish Network’s position is that means the same retrans rate that DirecTv got, something unacceptable to Hearst.
Between its satellite TV and wireline services, AT&T had some 25 million subscribers as of Dec. 31, 2016. Dish Network’s DBS service, when taking into account its Sling TV on-line service, might have as few as 12 million subscribers. Hence, they argue, Hearst would never agree to the same retransmission consent rate for Dish Network that it gave to DirecTV.
Likewise, they say, Hearst instantly rejected Dish Network’s offer of entering into binding arbitration since no broadcaster has agreed to that to resolve a retransmission consent contract dispute. Dish Network may also be trying to obtain distribution rights to the Hearst stations for Sling TV, some said.
The last time Hearst updated its stations’ websites about Dish Network was March 27, about the same time Dish Network updated the video running on its DBS service in the channel locations where the Hearst stations had been. Executives believe the two companies could, if they wanted to, reach a new retransmission consent deal relatively quickly — and it could happen any day.
Neither Dish Network and Hearst have offered any comment at all in response to repeated inquiries from Satellite Business News over the last two weeks.
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