Dish ends 2-month retransmission spat with Lilly Broadcasting

Dish Network
Dish used the blackout as a soapbox to push for retrans reform in Washington.

Dish Network has announced the renewal of broadcast retransmission licensing deal with Lilly Broadcasting, ending a two-month blackout that include stations spanning from Puerto Rico to Hawaii to New York.

Terms of the agreement, of course, weren’t announced. 

The agreement covered a number of stations in hurricane-ravaged regions for which electrical power to consume broadcast television wasn’t even available for much of the blackout. Dish said it lost 145,000 customers, some of them temporarily, in the region during the third quarter due to the hurricanes.

RELATED: Lilly TV stations in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands back on Dish after blackout

These stations included CBS affiliates WSEE-TV in Erie, Pennsylvania—which rebroadcasts to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well ABC station WENY-VI in the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Also impacted were ABC affiliate KITV-TV and MeTV outlet KITV2-TV, both in Honolulu.

Dish restored broadcast service to the hurricane-damaged islands for a limited time in early October, bowing to pressure from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. 

At the time, Dish used the blackout as a soapbox to push again for retrans reform. The pay TV provider cited SNL Kagan figures that said retrans revenues for broadcasters are expected to reach $12.8 billion in 2023, while urging Congress to review and reform retrans laws.

“Lilly’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,” said R. Stanton Dodge, Dish executive vice president and general counsel, in a statement. “Broadcasters like Lilly use their in-market monopoly power to put profits ahead of the public interests they are supposed to serve.”