A year after engaging Sinclair Broadcast Group in a contentious retransmission licensing renewal negotiation that led to the biggest ever retrans blackout, Dish Network has endorsed the broadcaster’s plan to hand out free over-the-air antennas.
“It’s smart. The country’s 90 million pay-TV customers, all of whom pay retransmission fees for local broadcast stations, are frustrated by rising costs and channel blackouts,” said Warren Schlichting, Dish executive VP of marketing, programming and media sales, in a statement. “Complementing the pay-TV experience, which includes the increasing adoption of streaming services like Sling TV, Sony Vue, Hulu and Netflix, is good business and may drive a solution to the otherwise compounding problem of ever-rising retransmission consent fees for local TV.”
Earlier this week, Sinclair announced that it is partnering with the NAB-backed group TV Freedom and Antennas Direct for what it calls the “Broadcast TV Liberation Tour.”
The group’s tour bus will over the next two weeks visit Little Rock, Arkansas; Macon, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; Asheville, North Carolina; and Baltimore, Maryland; seeking to raise awareness among consumers that they “can access dozens of local broadcast TV channels via an advanced digital antenna in high-definition for free.”
The tour’s promotors say the tour has visited more than 60 U.S. cities so far and handed out more than a $1 million worth of broadcast antennas for free.
Dish, meanwhile, has been locked in a 33-market blackout with Tribune Media since June 12. Dish said it has distributed $7 million worth of OTA antennas to affected customers so far.
“Sinclair is on the right track for consumers and we’d encourage Tribune to follow its example,” Schlichting said.
Tribune responded with this statement: “Tribune Media has been in continuous negotiations with Dish since being forced off its distribution system on June 12. To say otherwise is patently false, and further evidence of Dish’s willingness to mislead its customers and our viewers.”
- read this Dish Network press release
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