Dish Customers Hit With Blackouts In 2 Markets

By Greg Tarr On Oct 10 2013 - 1:02pm




Englewood, Colo. — An ongoing dispute over new TV station carriage contracts forces Dish customers to stop receiving their local CBS and Fox affiliate stations in Mankato, Minn, and Watertown, N.Y., Wednesday.

The blackout impacts stations KEYC (CBS) and KEYC-DT2 (Fox) in Mankato, and WWNY (CBS) and WNYF (Fox) in Watertown.

Dish issued a statement Thursday saying that television broadcasting concern United Communications Corp. (UCC), which owns the four impacted stations, blocked its stations from Dish satellite-TV customers in the two markets, “despite ongoing negotiations over new carriage agreements between the two parties.”

Dish said it offered to accept the broadcaster’s rates for continued carriage, but UCC “refused Dish the legal right to carry these channels at this time.”

“We have agreed to key financial terms, yet United has chosen to bring consumers into an avoidable dispute by blocking customers’ access to these CBS and Fox affiliates,” said Sruta Vootukuru, Dish programming director. “United seems to have drifted away from its public service commitment to communities, but Dish remains ready to work with United to bring local content back to viewers.”

UCC said in a statement on its stations’ websites that it “reached agreement with Dish on the financial terms of the carriage in late July. Since then, Dish has demanded that our stations accept contract language that would violate copyrights for the programming we carry from various sources, including CBS and Fox networks.”

Station KEYC general manager Marvin Rhodes noted that the local stations had remained on the Dish lineup under terms of a temporary extension for more than two months.

According to a statement from UCC VP Ken Dowdell: “Wednesday Dish rejected our offer to continue under the terms of the existing agreement so Dish subscribers would be able to watch their local news and other programs.”

“Our viewers depend on the hometown news and weather that only stations like KEYC News 12 and Fox 12 Mankato provide,” Rhodes said. “We live here, we work here, and we provide significant community support.”

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