Houston & Peach

Dish Network channel dispute still at impasse

Dish Network and the Middle Georgia ABC and Fox affiliate have not reached an agreement to continue broadcasting past midnight Friday and are trading barbs.

The satellite broadcaster carries WGXA-TV in Macon, the local affiliate for both networks, and ABC and Fox are seeking payment from Dish Network.

The parties have not been able to agree on the amount that would be paid, said Keith True, station manager for WGXA-TV.

“Negotiations are still under way, but there has been no breakthrough,” True said Monday. “We are about as close to resolving something as Macon is (close) to Phoenix, Ariz.”

Following a Telegraph story last week about the impasse, Dish issued a news release.

“DISH Network is working diligently to negotiate a fair retransmission consent agreement for ... (the) affiliates in Macon. Unfortunately, WGXA-TV is demanding unreasonable contract terms and more than three times the current rate for continued carriage of these stations,” Dave Shull, Dish senior vice president for programming, said in the release. “To put that into perspective, that’s like gasoline going from $3 to nearly $10 per gallon overnight, which is unacceptable and irresponsible.”

True called Dish’s gas price analogy “weak at best.”

“Our negotiation (payment) is less than a penny a day per subscriber,” he said. “They haven’t been able to strike deals, and they have been going off the air in a lot of markets.”

Dish Network subscribers in Eugene, Ore., have been unable to get ABC-affiliate programming since Dec. 15 when the Dish/ABC contract there expired, according to the Mail Tribune newspaper. Dish Network was off the air at all the Fisher Communications stations for six months last year in the Northwest, according to the Denver Business Journal. Fox in Los Angeles was off the air for the month of October until the parties agreed to a multiyear contract, according to the Los Angeles Times.

If no agreement is reached, Dish subscribers will be able to pick up the ABC and FOX programs by using over-the-air high definition antennas, through other satellite providers or through all local cable outlets.

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.