Ramping up its retrans-based rhetorical war with regional station group Lockwood Broadcasting, Dish Network has accused the broadcaster of holding the Super Bowl over the heads of its customers in Sherman, Texas.
NBC affiliate KTEN-TV, which serves Sherman and Denison, Texas, as well as Ada, Ardmore and Durant, Oklahoma, has been blacked out on Dish since last week, with Dish and Lockwood unable to come to terms on a new broadcast retransmission licensing agreement. If the blackout continues through Sunday, Dish customers will be shut out of the Super Bowl.
“With Dish willing to grant an extension and a retroactive true-up on rates, Lockwood had nothing to lose and consumers had everything to gain by leaving the channels up,” said Andy LeCuyer, Dish senior VP of programming, in a statement. “Instead, Lockwood chose to turn its back on its public interest obligations and use innocent consumers as bargaining chips.”
Dish said that its customers can stream the Super Bowl via the NBC Sports Extra app.
Impacted stations also include ABC affiliate KAKE-TV in Wichita, Kansas; CW affiliate WHDF-TV in Florence, Alabama; and CW station WCWG-TV in Lexington, North Carolina.
“Lockwood’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,” added Jeff Blum, Dish senior VP and deputy general counsel. “Broadcasters like Lockwood use their in-market monopoly power to put profits ahead of the public interests they are supposed to serve.”
Dish has yet to report fourth-quarter earnings, but its total customer losses for 2017 are expected to far surpass 1 million. Yet the satellite TV company has sustained its aggressive posture in terms of program licensing negotiations, resulting in a steady stream of program interruptions for its customers.