Hoosier Dish Network subscribers are being warned to prepare for the “largest local station blackout in TV history” if a contract dispute between Dish and Nexstar Media Group isn’t settled today.
Last week, both companies issued separate press releases blaming the other for an impass that could result local affiliates being blacked out for Dish subscribers.
According to Nexstar, parent company of Fox affiliate WXIN-59 and CBS affiliate WTTV-4 in Indianapolis, subscribers would lose local programming at 7 p.m. Wednesday if a new deal isn’t made.
Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.
Nexstar also owns CBS affiliate WANE in Fort Wayne; NBC and ABC affiliates WTWO and WAWV in Terre Haute; and ABC and CW affiliates WEHT and WTVW in Evansville.
Fox59, like many other stations around the nation, is reaching out to its viewers as the deadline looms.
On the website keepmystation.com/fox59, the station is urging customers to call DISH and demand that Fox59 remain available to them.
“FOX59 has presented a proposal for fair value, based on the importance and value our programming brings to our viewers. Despite our tireless efforts, DISH has refused our fair offer and is making negotiations very difficult,” said a statement on the website.
In a statement released on Thanksgiving Day, Dish accused Nexstar of using its market power to demand unreasonable rate increases while “intentionally using millions of Americans as pawns in their negotiations.”
Dish said the blackout would impact customer access to 164 local channels in 120 markets across 42 states and the District of Columbia.
“Since becoming the nation’s largest local station owner, Nexstar has increased its annual revenue by $1 billion a year. Now, it has set its sights on DISH customers as their next big payday,” Brian Neylon, Group President of DISH TV, said in a statement. “Nexstar is demanding more than $1 billion in fees for its television channels. This shocking increase is the highest we’ve ever seen.”
Nexstar responded with a press release of its own the next day, stating that Dish is “willing to hold its subscribers hostage rather than reach an agreement with Nexstar and other broadcasters.”
Nexstar said the expiring agreement was finalized in late 2016, meaning that Dish has benefitted from paying “significantly under market retransmission consent fees to Nexstar while consistently instituting rate increases to its subscribers.”
“While Nexstar remains hopeful that a resolution can be reached today, should DISH fail to come to terms with Nexstar, Nexstar intends to actively educate consumers in affected markets on how they can continue to receive their favorite network programming, in-depth local news, other content and programming relevant to their communities, and critical updates in times of emergencies,” said the Nexstar statement.
According to Nexstar’s website, the company “owns, operates, programs or provides sales and other services to 197 television stations (including partner stations) in 115 markets or approximately 63% of all U.S. television households including 122 local web sites and 316 local news and weather mobile apps.”
As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, no new deal had been announced. IndyStar has reached out to both Dish and Nexstar for comment.
Call IndyStar reporter Justin L. Mack at 317-444-6138. Follow him on Twitter: @justinlmack.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Dish Network customers could lose Fox59, CBS4 programming starting Wednesday night