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Published: Friday, 8/2/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Dish users lose access to local CBS, Fox

Raycom pulls channels after satellite provider rejects deal

BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

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Dish Network customers lost access to Toledo’s local CBS and Fox affiliates on Thursday after a deadline passed for a new deal between the satellite service provider and the stations’ parent company.

Raycom Media, which owns WTOL-TV, Channel 11, and operates WUPW-TV, Channel 36, under a shared services agreement, said it has been in unsuccessful negotiations with Dish for several months.

Cable TV and satellite TV companies pay stations a fee to broadcast their signals.

Raycom said Dish has refused to enter into a new agreement.

Dish, meanwhile, said Raycom is looking for a “massive” price increase. “We are ready to listen to a fair proposal from Raycom to bring this impasse to a swift end,” Dish director of programming Sruta Vootukuru said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the broadcaster has not been willing to pursue an agreement that would have avoided this disruption of service to our customers and Raycom viewers.”

Dish counts a little more than 14 million subscribers nationwide. The company does not release how many subscribers it has in specific markets.

Bob Chirdon, the vice president and general manager of WTOL, said negotiations went late into Wednesday night, but a deal couldn’t be reached.

“We offered them an extension to continue negotiating. They did not accept that, and here we are,” he said.

Dish says Raycom is asking for four times as much money as Dish previously paid to carry its programming. Dish said Thursday it has offered to pay Raycom the same rates its primary competitors pay.

Raycom, based in Montgomery, Ala., has pulled its channels from Dish in 35 other markets, including Cleveland and Cincinnati.

“We understand this is frustrating for Dish Network customers, we share their frustration, and we are committed to doing everything we can to resolve this issue,” Paul McTear, Raycom’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement released Thursday. The company said it will continue negotiating with Dish.

For Dish customers, there are other ways to watch WTOL, Mr. Chirdon said.

“We've been streaming our newscast for quite a while now,” he said. “They’re available over the air for free, and of course people who are Dish customers, if they are terribly dissatisfied with the loss of the station, they can certainly switch to another carrier.”

In Toledo, WTOL and WUPW are also available on Buckeye CableSystem, Time Warner Cable, AT&T U-verse, and DirecTV. Buckeye CableSystem is owned by Block Communications Inc., also the parent company of The Blade.

WUPW said the channel is committed to serving the community of northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan and said the company shares the frustrations of Dish Network customers.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to resolve this issue with Dish Network,” the statement said.

In December, the owners of WUPW pulled the station from Buckeye CableSystem while the two companies were engaged in a legal battle over how much Buckeye should pay to rebroadcast Channel 36.

The two sides reached a settlement in late January that brought the channel back into Buckeye’s lineup after a little more than a month.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.



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