DISH Network, WCBD-TV at odds over new contract
Thousands of area DISH Network subscribers could lose WCBD programming unless a new deal is reached between the satellite television provider and Media General, parent company of the local NBC affiliate.
At issue is how much DISH will pay in fees to carry WCBD and more than a dozen other Media General stations.
Both sides pointed a finger at the other as the reason for the stalemate.
DISH said in a statement released Wednesday night that Media General is seeking a “massive price increase” under a new proposed retransmission agreement. When contacted Thursday, DISH did not provide any details.
WCBD’s website said the deadline for an agreement is 11:59 p.m. eastern time Sunday. “Unfortunately, so far DISH Network has refused to reach a fair, market-based deal to carry WCBD,” according to the site.
WCBD General Manager Rick Lipps said he could not discuss details of the talks.
“It’s basically a business negotiation that is being made public,” he said.
Lipps said 29,000 homes receive WCBD through the DISH Network.
Channel 2 offers local news, weather and sports. The Mount Pleasant station provides NBC and The CW networks to area viewers.
If no agreement is reached, DISH customers could continue to receive WCBD by installing a $20 digital antennae on their receiver or switching to another pay TV provider, Lipps said.
“I don’t want the viewers to suffer. I hope they get this done and I am confident they will get it done before the contract expires,” he said.
DISH TV has 14 million subscribers.
“We understand that customers in the Charleston area want their full local programming, and we are working around the clock to try to make that happen,” said Sruta Vootukuru, DISH director of programming.
Disputes over so-called retransmission fees have turned into public-relations battles in recent years.
Another recent example also involved Media General. It locked horns over WCBD programming fees late last year with Time Warner Cable, which serves about 20,000 households in the Summerville area. They came to an agreement just before the Dec. 31 deadline.
Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711. John McDermott of The Post and Courier contributed to this report.