Programming

Dish Drops Four Citadel Stations in Retrans Impasse

Dish Network unable to negotiate extension to retransmission-consent deal with Citadel Communications. 8/01/2008 04:54:00 AM Eastern

Dish Network dropped four Midwestern TV stations early Friday that are owned by Citadel Communications from its local-station offer after being unable to negotiate an extension to its retransmission-consent deal.

A Dish spokeswoman said the satellite-TV platform had no choice but to cease transmission since its carriage rights lapsed.

The four stations are ABC affiliate WOI-TV Des Moines Iowa; ABC affiliate KCAU-TV Sioux City, Iowa; ABC affiliate KLKN-TV Lincoln, Neb.; and CBS affiliate WHBF-TV in the Quad Cities.

The Dish spokeswoman said the broadcaster wanted an “excessive” rate increase for continued carriage but would not provide details.

Citadel president Ray Cole blamed Dish for the impasse, saying that it dragged its feet on negotiations by not responding for two months so Citadel opted not to grant a temporary extension. He added that the broadcaster’s stations are still carried by all cable and DirecTV platforms.

“We continue to engage Dish Network for an agreement that is fair to both parties,” Cole said. “I think if we had really rolled up our sleeves, we could have done a deal” without a blackout.

Citadel is a closely held company owned by Philip Lombardo.

The Dish spokeswoman said the satellite-TV platform is not experiencing any other retrans disputes at this time. In an earnings conference call Friday, Hearst-Argyle Television said it just concluded a Dish deal involving more than 2 million households for its stations.

A banner ad titled, “Important Information for Dish Subscribers,” on the Web site of KLKN-TV cited the Dish outage. Clicking the ad calls up text that says in part, “Our request to the Dish Network is really quiet simple and fair. We’ve asked them to fairly compensate us for the redistribution of our on-air programming. This is totally consistent with the carriage fees Dish pays other broadcasting-affiliated TV stations. Additionally, our request is only a very small fraction of what is already being paid to other program providers who have no local ties to our community. Over the past several years, we’ve very successfully negotiated dozens of these agreements without any major difficulty.”

Current rates for broadcast-TV-carriage deals typically run 10 cents-50 cents per subscriber, per month, with satellite TV typically paying at the high end of that range. In renewals, broadcasters are proposing $1-$1.65 in negotiations, but often settling for less.

Stations and multichannel providers generally do not provide specific details on financial terms.

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