UPDATE, 9:10 AM: Sinclair’s angry about Dish’s “corporate greed” charge, and has fired back to “set the record straight.” The broadcaster says that the retransmission consent payments it wants for its stations “are substantially lower than the amounts Dish is paying for other far less popular channels it carries.” Broadcasters have long noted that cable and satellite companies pay less for stations carrying ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC than they do for low-rated cable channels. But distributors point out that broadcasters’ signals are worth less because they’re also available for free over the air and on Web sites such as Hulu. Sinclair adds that its negotiations with Dish “involve matters other than pricing” — noting that broadcasters are in court charging that Dish’s ad-zapping Hopper DVR infringes on their copyrights. Sinclair is urging Dish customers to switch to a service “that values Sinclair stations enough to carry them,” including DirecTV or a local cable or telco video provider.
PREVIOUS, 6:55 AM: Here we go again, another retransmission consent contract dispute between Dish Network and a broadcaster. A blackout could affect Dish customers in 45 cities where Sinclair owns or provides services to stations — including affiliates of Fox (20 stations), MyTV (18), ABC (11), CW (14), CBS (9), NBC (1) and Azteca (1). “We carry more than 1,800 local broadcast stations nationwide. Sinclair is asking for more than any other station anywhere in the country,” says Dish SVP Dave Shull. “This goes beyond pure corporate greed — it’s profoundly insensitive to the needs of the public.” Sinclair says that although it is still negotiating with Dish, there’s “significant doubt” as to whether they can reach an agreement. Dish accounts for about 3.6M of the 27.2M homes that Sinclair reaches, according to SNL Kagan data. This is just the latest spat between Dish and a broadcaster. It recently had a run in with tiny Hoak Media, and all of the leading broadcasters are battling Dish’s Hopper DVR which can automatically skip past commercials on shows recorded from major network affiliates. Dish also has dropped all the cable channels from AMC Networks. Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has vigorously attacked broadcasters’ retransmission demands, calling them a “government-sponsored monopoly.” Sinclair shares are down about 1.7% in early trading.