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Dish Network, Media General agree to 90-day extension in fee dispute

Wes Bunch • Jun 29, 2013 at 9:22 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Johnson City-based CBS affiliate WJHL announced Friday afternoon that it reached an agreement with Dish Network to extend its current transmission agreement for 90 days while both parties continue to negotiate terms.

Both Dish Network and Richmond, Va.-based Media General, WJHL’s parent company, have been in a contract dispute that threatened to knock WJHL off the satellite provider’s network in the Tri-Cities if an agreement was not reached by 11:59 p.m. on June 30.

“This is very good news for our viewers,” WJHL General Manager Dan Cates said. “It means that even after the deadline has passed, our viewers will still be able to watch their favorite programs on WJHL, which is a good thing. There’s still a lot of work left to work this out, but we’ve been given a 90-day extension to get that done.”

The dispute between Dish and Media General centered around programming fees that the satellite provider characterized as a “massive price increase.”

In a prepared release sent out earlier this week, Dish Director of Programming Sruta Vootukuru said, “DISH will continue to fight on behalf of our customers to keep programming fees fair and as low as possible.”

Dish also claimed that the increased costs would likely force them to raise monthly subscription fees on its customers.

Cates countered Dish’s claims by saying WJHL and Media General were only seeking fees that cable networks charge.

“From our standpoint, most important thing, despite reports that our parent company Media General was demanding much higher fees, is that we simply want Dish to pay us the same retransmission consent fees that they pay for network cable programs,” Cates said. “They pay us and other broadcast affiliates about half what they do cable.

“So, we’re saying to Dish, do the right thing and pay us the same amount you’re paying other programs, because we bring Dish a lot more viewers than those cable network programs.”

Cates said representatives from both Media General and Dish would continue working throughout the 90-day extension period to come to a long-term contract agreement.

“We will continue to negotiate, and we hope to reach a fair and equitable agreement so our loyal customers who watch on Dish will be able to continue to watch us for a long time to come,” Cates said.

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