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Dish forced to drop local stations owned by Hearst

A contract allowing Dish Network to carry Hearst's local ABC, NBC, CBS and CW Network affiliates expired Friday morning.

A contract allowing Dish Network to carry Hearst's local ABC, NBC, CBS and CW Network affiliates expired Friday morning.

A Dish Network satellite dish.
A Dish Network satellite dish. (Photo by Cody Logan via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)

Satellite broadcaster Dish Network has pulled dozens of ABC, NBC, CBS and CW Network affiliates owned by Hearst Television after an agreement to carry those channels expired early Friday morning.

The original deal was set to expire on Wednesday, according to a person with knowledge of the agreement, but Dish and Hearst successfully negotiated a temporary extension that kept the local channels on the satellite service until Friday.

A new agreement needed to be reached before 2 p.m. Eastern Time (11 a.m. Pacific Time) in order to keep nearly three dozen network affiliates owned by Hearst on Dish’s satellite service. With no new deal in place, Dish moved forward with blocking access to Hearst-owned local stations on satellite after the deadline expired (the issue doesn’t involve Dish’s streaming service, Sling TV, which has never carried Hearst-owned channels).

The channels affected by the dispute between Dish Network and Hearst Television include:

  • KCCI (Channel 8, CBS) in Des Moines
  • KCRA-TV (Channel 3, NBC) in Sacramento
  • KCWE (Channel 29, CW) in Kansas City
  • KETV (Channel 7, ABC) in Omaha
  • KHBS (Channel 40, ABC) in Fort Smith, Arkansas
  • KHOG (Channel 29, CW) in Fort Smith, Arkansas
  • KMBC (Channel 9, ABC) in Kansas City
  • KOAT (Channel 7, ABC) in Albuquerque
  • KOCO (Channel 5, ABC) in Oklahoma City
  • KQCA (Channel 58, CW) in Sacramento
  • KSBW (Channel 8, NBC & ABC) in Monterey, California
  • WAPT (Channel 16, ABC) in Jackson, Mississippi
  • WBAL (Channel 11, NBC) in Baltimore
  • WBBH (Channel 20, NBC) in Fort Myers, Florida
  • WCVB (Channel 5, ABC) in Boston
  • WCWG (Channel 20, CW) in Greensboro, North Carolina
  • WDSU (Channel 6, NBC) in New Orleans
  • WESH (Channel 2, NBC) in Orlando
  • WGAL (Channel 8, NBC) in York, Pennsylvania
  • WISN (Channel 12, ABC) in Milwaukee
  • WJCL (Channel 22, ABC) in Savannah
  • WKCF (Channel 18, CW) in Orlando
  • WLKY (Channel 32, CBS) in Louisville, Kentucky
  • WLWT (Channel 5, NBC) in Cincinnati
  • WMOR (Channel 32) in Tampa
  • WMTW (Channel 8, ABC) in Portland, Maine
  • WMUR (Channel 9, ABC) in Manchester, New Hampshire
  • WNNE (Channel 31, CW) in Burlington, Vermont
  • WPBF (Channel 25, ABC) in West Palm Beach, Florida
  • WPTZ (Channel 5, NBC) in Burlington, Vermont
  • WPXT (Channel 51, CW) in Portland, Maine
  • WTAE (Channel 4, ABC) in Pittsburgh
  • WVTM (Channel 13, NBC) in Birmingham, Alabama
  • WXII (Channel 12, NBC) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • WYFF (Channel 4, NBC) in Greenville, South Carolina
  • WZVN (Channel 26, ABC) in Fort Myers, Florida

As is typical in disputes like these, Dish says Hearst wants more money in exchange for the same linear channels offered on satellite TV. Agreeing to those higher fees would result in larger bills for customers, Dish says, and the company believes it cannot justify paying more money for the same set of channels, particularly as viewership shifts from broadcast TV to streaming platforms.

“Demanding higher rates for the same entertainment and news just doesn’t make sense, especially as Hearst’s content is widely available on other platforms,” Gary Schanman, the group president of video services at Dish Network, said in a statement. “This hurts our customers in their pocketbooks and their ability to watch the programming and content they want. Unfortunately, Hearst, like many other programmers, expects Dish and our customers to foot the bill.”

In a statement, officials at Hearst said they had “reached an impasse in negotiating a renewal retransmission consent agreement for the carriage of Hearst Television’s broadcast stations on Dish’s satellite system,” and said the demand for more money was justified by its “significant investments to deliver top tier programming to our viewers.”

“Dish is seeking the right to carry our stations at below market rates, which is neither fair nor reasonable,” a Hearst spokesperson said, adding that Hearst programming can continue to be received for free with a conventional, over-the-air antenna in most areas.

Dish viewers who can’t receive their local station with an antenna can also watch Hearst-owned broadcast outlets on a variety of streaming TV alternatives, including DirecTV Stream (free trial here) and Fubo (free trial here), as well as YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV. Hearst-owned ABC affiliates are also available on Vidgo.

The dispute between Dish and Hearst is just the latest involving a cable or satellite distributor of pay TV programming and the major media companies who own the broadcast stations themselves.

Earlier this month, Charter Communications dropped more than a dozen broadcast and cable networks owned by the Walt Disney Company, including ABC-owned local stations, FX, ESPN and the Disney Channel, following a demand by Disney for higher retransmission fees.

Charter executives said last week they were willing to pay Disney more money for the same linear TV channels, but wanted additional perks for subscribers of its Spectrum TV service, including free access to the ad-supported tiers of Disney’s streaming services and the flexibility to move channels around different packages.

In July, satellite broadcaster DirecTV was forced to pull more than 160 local TV stations owned by Nexstar Media Group after Nexstar also demanded more money for those channels.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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