Dish asks Tribune to submit to 'baseball-style arbitration,' says it worked for NBCU deal

Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) has asked Tribune Broadcasting to submit to "binding, baseball-style" arbitration in order to end a retrans dispute — the same type of procedure, Dish said, that were "successful' when applied to its recent retrans/carriage impasse with NBCUniversal. 

"We want to return these local stations to our customers immediately, and binding, baseball-style arbitration offers a path to reach a fair deal and to serve the best interests of our customers," said Warren Schlichting, Dish executive VP of programming.

Over the weekend, Dish went dark on 42 Tribune stations in 33 markets, amid the satellite TV operator's latest — and largest — broadcast retransmission licensing dispute. 

In March, facing a similar impasse with NBCU, Dish told the FCC it would use clauses in merger conditions tied to Comcast's purchase of NBCU to pursue binding arbitration with that programmer. 

In its statement regarding Tribune's invitation to binding arbitration, Dish said its plans is "modeled on the successful arbitration procedures from the Comcast/NBCU merger to determine the fair market value of their channels."

Dish reps didn't immediately respond to FierceCable's inquiry as to whether a deal has been signed with NBCU. 

In the meantime, Dish continued to distribute over-the-air antennas to its subscribers.

"Our solution to offer free over-the-air antennas to impacted consumers has been tremendously successful, and provided consumers with a meaningful option to fight back against the unreasonable demands of broadcasters whose primary goal should be to serve the very consumers that they are using as pawns to gain negotiating leverage," Schlichting added.

Tribune did not immediately respond to FierceCable's request for comment on the Dish's arbitration proposal.

But, in comments issued Wednesday, Tribune claimed Dish has been unresponsive and seemingly unwilling to negotiate.

"We repeatedly offered Dish an extension through the end of August, more than 60 days, for precisely this reason — they drag their feet in negotiations," said Gary Weitman, senior VP of corporate relations for Tribune Media, in a statement. "Dish rejected every offer, which demonstrates a total disregard for their customers and our viewers. Perhaps that explains why they have lost almost 150,000 subscribers in the last year alone."

For more:
- read this Dish press release

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