Dish Network and Tegna must have savvy PR folk on hand who urged them to keep the TV stations up through next Friday at 7 PM ET — even though the carriage contract expired yesterday. They did this, the satellite and TV broadcast companies say, because: “With Hurricane Joaquin forecast to potentially impact several Tegna markets, this extension ensures that critical programming remains available to all viewers.”
To be sure, people turn to local TV in emergencies for advice about what to do, and to learn about school closings and other service interruptions. A blackout also would not have played well at the FCC, which happens to be weighing policy changes designed to discourage TV companies that can’t agree on deal terms from penalizing viewers.
But the announcement indicates that Tegna stations (formerly Gannett) still might go dark on Dish once the storm, and the week, passes. That would be a big deal. The broadcaster reaches about a third of all households with the largest independently owned collection of major network affiliates in the 25 biggest markets. It’s the top owner of NBC and CBS affiliates, and is No. 4 with ABC.
The webite for Tegna’s Washington, DC station, WUSA, told Dish customers that Dish “has refused to reach a fair, market-based agreement with us – even though the terms being offered are similar to those which allowed us to reach deals with …other providers.”
Dish SVP Programming Warren Schlichting said that Tegna sought “unfair price increases.”