With its blackout of 33 network affiliates in 26 markets on Dish Network reaching the two-week mark, Hearst Television has posted a countdown clock on its website, marking the duration of the programming interruption and rhetorically placing blame for the impasse on the pay-TV operator.
The station group has also launched a radio and print campaign aimed at having the viewing public perceive that Dish is to blame.
“We are engaging in multiple efforts to keep our viewers informed and educated about this process,” said Jordan Wertlieb, Hearst Television president, in a statement.
The Hearst salvos came after Dish issued its own statement, claiming it had proposed the same broadcast retransmission licensing terms already carved out by rival broadcaster DirecTV, which successfully ended its own blackout with Hearst in January.
“Before Hearst blacked out Dish customers two weeks ago, we said that we would agree to the same terms as DirecTV,” Dish said in a statement. “That offer remains on the table. Hearst should do the right thing for consumers by agreeing to the same terms as its deal with DirecTV and restoring its stations to the Dish lineup today. Dish is committed to reaching a fair agreement with Hearst to end this blackout.”
Hearst responded by calling the claim bogus.
“As for Dish’s repeated and false claims of financial offers, Dish is clearly misguiding its customers,” Wertlieb added. “As is customary for companies seeking to protect disclosure of their confidential information to competitors, we cannot disclose the terms of our DirecTV deal to Dish. The question is, why is Dish not offering to Hearst what Dish has surely agreed to pay to other broadcasters?"
Wertlieb also denied Dish’s claim that Hearst is refusing to negotiate.
“We remain, as always, ready to continue serious negotiations,” he said.