Dish Network and Hearst Television have ratcheted up their efforts to persuade viewers that the other side is to blame for the contract impasse that left subscribers unable to watch the broadcasters’ affiliates in 26 markets including Baltimore, Boston, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh.
Dish today is circulating a video featuring EVP Programming Warren Schlichting who says that Hearst “won’t budge” and “won’t respond to our latest offer” following March 3 when the broadcaster’s stations went dark on the No. 2 satellite provider.
The outcome “means the system is broken,” Schlichting says.
He adds that Hearst’s last offer would have doubled the price Dish paid, making Hearst “the highest paid local broadcaster” on the satellite service.
The jump in pricing “doesn’t happen in most of the real world,” he says. “But that’s what broadcasters are trying to do.”
Dish has offered to take the same deal that Hearst made early this year with AT&T’s DirectTV, “but they have refused.”
(Large services — AT&T is the largest — typically pay lower rates than smaller ones.)
Schlichting ends with a call to action, urging viewers to “help us as we fight for you against this media conglomerate” by calling Hearst. “It is you who ultimately pays the price.”
The Dish video follows Hearst’s message, sent via its local stations, that its negotiators are “ready and available around-the-clock to engage in substantive negotiations.”
“We recognize that viewers are upset, and we share their frustration,” the company says. “Dish seems to be employing their standard ‘playbook’—using unfair tactics to hold subscribers hostage, while making unreasonable demands on yet another local broadcast station.”
Hearst offers its own call to action: It told Dish customers that they can still watch its local broadcasts via over-the-air antennas “and, where available, from your local cable or satellite operators.”
The broadcaster also encouraged Dish subscribers to call the company and “ask about a refund or a credit.”
Hearst has 15 ABC affiliates and 12 with NBC along with a handful of CBS and CW outlets — many of which offer must-have NFL and other sports.
Deals today also typically involve other terms involving digital carriage. Dish owns the Sling TV live streaming service.
The companies’ previous deal expired at the end of February, but they agreed to a two-day extension.