Lilly Broadcasting’s One Caribbean Television in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are back on Dish Network after being blacked out amid a retrans dispute.
Satellite Business News confirmed with Lilly’s COO that the broadcaster had given Dish permission to continue carrying the stations as disaster-recovery efforts continue in both areas, which were hit hard by recent hurricanes.
While One Caribbean is back on the satellite service, Lilly’s WSEEP-TV, the CBS station in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and WENY-VI, the ABC station in the U.S. Virgin Islands, remain off Dish.
The most recent reports about Puerto Rico say that only 5% of the island has electricity so it's likely that many residents don't have access to any sort of television.
Over the weekend, Dish published a news release accusing Lilly of demanding unreasonable rate increases higher than the current Dish rate, and also refusing Dish’s offer to match the rates paid by other pay-TV providers.
“Lilly is further blinding the citizens of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands at this time, showing an unbelievable lack of compassion,” said Warren Schlichting, executive vice president of marketing, programming and media sales at Dish, in a statement. “During this humanitarian crisis, it’s critical for people to have access to more information, not less, whether one home or 10,000 can access these stations.”
“DISH offered to extend the contract, but Lilly rejected it. Lilly had nothing to lose and consumers had everything to gain by accepting our extension and leaving the channels up.”
Dish used the blackout as a soapbox to push again for retrans reform. The pay-TV provider cited SNL Kagan figures that say retrans revenues for broadcasters are expected to reach $12.8 billion in 2023 while urging U.S. Congress to review and reform retrans laws.
“Lilly’s decision to cut ties with DISH customers is a prime example of why Washington needs to stand up for consumers and end local channel blackouts,” said R. Stanton Dodge, Dish executive vice president and general counsel, in a statement. “Broadcasters like Lilly use their in-market monopoly power to put profits ahead of the public interests they are supposed to serve.”
This article was updated to include information about electricity outages in Puerto Rico.