Gannett, Dish Down to Wire on Retrans Pact
AutoHop ad skipper part of negotiations as deadline looms
By Michael Malone -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/5/2012 11:28:26 AM
Gannett execs are in Colorado, home of Dish headquarters, on Oct. 5 in an effort to work out a deal.
Dish's controversial AutoHop DVR feature, which allows viewers to skip through commercials, is one of the issues on the table.
"Gannett Broadcasting is threatening to block Dish customers' access to programming unless Dish agrees to pay massive penalties or stop its customers from having access to Dish's new commercial-skipping AutoHop feature," said Dish in a statement.
A Gannett source with knowledge of the negotiations said Dish's claims were untrue.
Retrans-related spats are uncommon for Gannett. It countered that Dish has refused to agree to a "fair, market-based deal" with the broadcaster. "We remain committed to continuing to negotiate with Dish right up to that deadline and believe an agreement is possible, as we are seeking nothing more than the same market-based terms that have allowed us to reach deals with TV providers across the country," said Gannett in a statement. "Gannett has never had a service disruption with a major TV provider and we hope we do not face that situation with Dish."
Broadcasters are very anxious about AutoHop. Fox, CBS and NBCUniversal sued Dish over the technology, while Dish filed its own suit as well. Dish says it's simply adding innovation to the TV industry.
"Viewers have been skipping commercials in the privacy of their own homes for generations," said Dave Shull, Dish senior VP of programming. "The TV industry should be doing just that, delivering innovation and viewer control. Gannett is stifling innovation and crushing customer choice and control."
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