Media General's stations have gone dark for Dish Network subscribers,
as the broadcaster and satellite TV operator failed to reach a
retransmission agreement prior the last one expiring at the close of
September. The blackout exists on 18 stations — a first for Media General.
"Media General stations, until now, have never experienced a
disruption of service with any pay-TV company because of a contract
impasse," Media General said in a statement. "On the other hand, local
stations are blacked out on Dish more than on any other pay-TV system."
Affected stations include WVTM Birmingham and WSLS Roanoke.
attempted to reach a fair agreement via many avenues, but Media General
remains immovable in its demands," said Sruta Vootukuru, Dish director
of programming. "They declined a contract extension, an offer from Dish
to pay our competitors' rates and have now refused our willingness to
match rates paid to other area broadcasters."
Dish said it
proposed a short-term contract extension until Media General completes
its merger with Young Broadcasting, which Media General declined.
Shull, Dish executive VP and chief commercial officer, urged
legislative action on retransmission consent in Washington. "The impact
of blackouts on consumers should be the focus of retransmission reform
in Washington," he said. "The outdated carriage rules have resulted in
an historic number of blackouts with millions of subscribers impacted.
It is time for reform."