Gannett Broadcasting and Dish Network are battling over
terms of retransmission consent with a deadline of midnight on the night of Oct.
7 looming. Dish has subscribers in 19 Gannett markets, and the stations may go
dark for them if an agreement is not worked out.
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."