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WSB-TV is off Dish TV in fee dispute

AP file, Paul Sakuma
AP file, Paul Sakuma

Credit: Paul Sakuma

Credit: Paul Sakuma

WSB-TV is no longer on Dish TV, the result of a dispute over how much Dish is willing to pay to air the station.

Last week, more than a dozen Cox Media Group stations in 10 markets nationwide went dark for Dish customers. Other markets impacted include Jacksonville and Orlando, Florida; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Boston; and Seattle.

Apollo Global Management, which owns Cox Media Group, in January had a similar dispute with Dish in 10 other markets. Those stations returned to Dish in March, when the pandemic began.

CMG, in a release, blamed Dish for “stalling negotiations for months while it pursued a misguided legal action against CMG. Despite multiple rulings rejecting Dish’s legal maneuvers, Dish still refused to do a fair deal and has now blacked out 13 CMG stations, including Channel 2.”

Dish, in a press release, said it took Apollo to court questioning whether the private equity firm terminated its carriage agreement with Dish early when it purchased the Cox Media stations in 2019. A Cook County (Illinois) Circuit Court issued a temporary restraining order forcing Dish to keep the stations available to its customers. The case later moved to federal court, and the restraining order was dissolved last week.

CMG said it’s up to Dish to black out stations, not the other way around.

Dish said CMG rejected an offer that it said would have kept the stations on air.

“We don’t understand why Apollo is choosing to put customers in the middle of its negotiations, especially during a global pandemic when customers need access to local news and programming,” Dish SVP of programming Andy LeCuyer said in a press release. “We have offered to apply our current agreement — with higher rates — to keep their channels available and avoid any service interruption while we continue to negotiate, but they refused, demanding a 40-percent increase to rates agreed to last year. We want to come to a long-term agreement that is fair for our customers.”

CMG, in its release, said it’s “hopeful that Dish will abandon its well-worn path of blacking out TV stations to the detriment of viewers in favor of meaningful negotiations that bear a mutually beneficial deal for all parties.”

“During these times of uncertainty, it is more important than ever that our viewers know their trusted local stations are there for them, providing the news and information they need to make decisions for their families,” said CMG executive vice president of Television Paul Curran in a press release. “CMG stations are often the top-rated providers of important local and national news, and take pride in being resources for our communities, and we will fight to continue to fulfill this responsibility.”

WSB-TV, which has the top-rated local newscasts in Atlanta in nearly all day parts with Channel 2 Action News, remains available for viewers who use an over-the-air antenna or customers of other providers such as Comcast and Spectrum.

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