A coalition of trade organizations filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Maryland state government over passage of a bill that imposes a tax on digital ad revenue. The Computer & Communications Industry Association, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Internet Association, sued Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D). CCIA’s members include Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google and Uber.
Dish Media, a provider of national addressable advertising, said it will employ a new technology platform from Comcast’s FreeWheel that handles both linear and addressable advertising, enabling the company to optimize campaigns against both types of inventory.
Fox Corp. and Dish Network ended a programming blackout Sunday that had kept thousands of the satellite-provider’s subscribers from watching Thursday Night Football and other Fox network favorites for the past week or so.
The 21 popular local sports channels were pulled from the satellite carrier and Sling TV after Dish and Disney were unable to come to terms on carriage fees. Disney is in the process of selling the RSNs to Sinclair, which is said not to have been involved in the negotiations. No word on how the impasse might impact Sinclair’s ability to finance its $9.6B acquisition of the channels.
Dish says it will combine $5 billion in assets being spun off from the Sprint-T-Mobile merger with its own vast reserves of wireless spectrum to compete head-on with AT&T, Verizon and Sprint-T-Mobile. “We’ve been here before,” said Dish CEO Charlie Ergen. “When we entered pay-TV with the launch of our first satellite in 1995, we faced entrenched cable monopolies, and our direct competitor was owned by one of the largest industrial corporations in the world.”
Sprint and T-Mobile combined would approach the size of Verizon and AT&T. The companies have argued that bulking up will mean a better next-generation “5G” wireless network than they could make on their own.
As part of the agreement settling DOJ’s antitrust concerns, the merging companies would spin off assets to Dish that would facilitate its entry into the wireless market as a new No. 4. The arrangement provides for Dish to acquire prepaid subscribers and wireless licenses from the merger partners, the Wall Street Journal says citing unnamed sources. Dish would also get a multiyear agreement to use the wireless companies’ network while it builds its own infrastructure.
Entering the second month of a blackout that has kept 42 Tribune-owned network affiliates in 33 markets off Dish Network, Charlie Ergen, chairman and CEO of the satellite TV service, said his company is “tens of millions of dollars apart” with the broadcaster, and didn’t sound hopeful about one of the largest ever retrans-related blackouts ending soon.
The satellite operator today reported improved second-quarter earnings, but it lost more pay TV subscribers than in the year-ago period and more than Wall Street had expected. It attributed the loss to “stricter customer acquisition policies” and increased competitive pressure.
Dish has asked Tribune to agree to “binding, baseball-style arbitration” that would “determine the fair market value of their channels” — and, in the meantime, allow the satellite company to air the services that went dark in the dispute. The fight has left about 5 million satellite customers unable to see Tribune stations, and about 7 million unable to watch WGNA.
The station group and satellite operator have agreed to a 24-hour extension of their retransmission consent deal as talks continue. The current agreement was scheduled to expire at 7 p.m. ET this evening.
The owner of the Evansville, Ind., CBS affiliate, DuJuan McCoy, files a lawsuit alleging the satellite operator, by prorating retrans payments, is depriving him of “significant revenues.”
It took three extensions before they could get it done, but the station group and satellite carrier now have a retrans deal covering 60 Nexstar stations in 46 markets. Terms were not disclosed.
Dish wants to make inroads with people who are fed up with traditional pay TV with its upcoming internet-based TV service, said company exec Adam Lowy at the TV of Tomorrow Show in San Francisco Wednesday. “Cord cutters, cord nevers and what we call cord haters” will be the target audience of the new service, he said.
The agreement is the first step toward Dish offering a cable-like service online, but before it launches it’s going to need similar deals with the ABC affiliates as well as with CBS, Fox, NBC and their affiliates. All the affiliates stand to make a little more on retrans and they get their signals onto the Internet where they can be watched by young viewers on mobile devices.
Media General and Dish Network announced Saturday that they have reached an agreement for carriage of Media General’s television stations in 17 markets. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Broadcasters have an alternative to converting over-the-air networks to cable channels to thwart Barry Diller’s Aereo and Charlie Ergen’s AutoHop Dish DVR: the “Dual Stream Strategy.” Each TV station would feed a new, modified visual format of programming to their transmitters for OTA reception. This would consist of a station’s programming lineup in a reduced-size video window, surrounded by continuous weather, news and community information graphics and visual ads. The second stream would consist of the core programming full-screen, just as it is now, for MVPDs with retrans deals.
The Consumer Electronics Association along with the Computer and Communications Industry Association and the Internet Association tells a federal court that the Dish Hopper service that allows consumers to record and zap ads in all network broadcasting does not violate copyright law. Broadcasters have sued Dish, claiming copyright violations and breach of distribution contracts.
It’s fitting that Dispatch Broadcast Group’s settlement of a carriage dispute with Dish Network came when it did, for today marks 20 years since the passage of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act, the measure that created retransmission consent and a second revenue stream that is now critical to local television.
All broadcasters should follow the lead of CBS’s Leslie Moonves and threaten to use their retrans clout to come down hard on Dish Network and the Auto Hop commercial-skipping feature of its Hopper DVR. Allowing subscribers to skip all spots in recorded programs at the touch of a button is a broadcasting killer.
Having failed to reach a new retransmission consent agreement with Dispatch Broadcast Group, Dish had to drop its two stations today — WTHR (NBC) Indianaoplis and WBNS Columbus, Ohio (CBS). Dispatch is seeking “exorbitant” hikes in retrans fees, Dish says. Its demands are “fair and reasonable,” counters Dispatch.
Retrans fee impasse leads the owner of 27 stations to say it’s ready to pull them from the satellite provider at midnight on Friday.
Dish Network failed to come to terms with Frontier Radio Management for carriage of Fox affiliate WGXA Macon, Ga., and its ABC multicast channel.