Graham stations set to go dark on Dish in latest retrans battle

Graham Media said five of its stations in Texas, Florida and Detroit are set to go dark on Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH), signaling the latest negotiation breakdown for broadcast retransmission licensing. 

Graham said that if a deal can't be reached by Wednesday, it will pull its stations off Dish's program guide. 

"We've been trying to negotiate a deal so our loyal viewers will be able to continue watching their favorite programs," said Marla Drutz, VP and GM of WDIV-TV, Graham's NBC affiliate in Detroit. "WDIV has made fair agreements with many other providers over the years and has never been taken off the air. In good faith, we've done everything we possibly can, on our end, to try and work this out with Dish"

Dish has yet to respond to FierceCable's inquiry for comment. However, on its Dish Answers Twitter account, the satellite operator said Graham is asking double the market rate for retrans. 

The other affected stations include Houston NBC affiliate KPRC-TV; San Antonio ABC affiliate KSAT-TV; Orlando, Fla. CBS affiliate WKMG-TV; and Jacksonville, Fla. independent WJXT-TV.

Retrans fees are rising fast. SNL Kagan, which had projected, just in October, total retrans fees to grow to $9.4 billion by 2020, recently revised that forecast to $9.8 billion.

Through groups including the American Cable Association, the cable industry is pushing the FCC to intervene and slow the rate of growth. 

For their part, broadcasters contend that their programming is watched by bigger audiences than those who tune in for cable channels, and that rates for these cable programming outlets are rising just as fast. 

For more:
- read this Graham Media press release
- read this TV News Check story

Related links:
Media General blacks out stations on Mediacom in 14 markets
SNL Kagan raises retrans fee forecast to $9.8B by 2020; Mediacom's CEO complains to FCC
ACA, ATVA trade jabs with NAB's TVfreedom.org over Mediacom v. Granite retrans battle
Quincy stations back on DirecTV after brief blackout; Dish renews Weather Channel

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