Pay TV and WISH and TV Stations and TV

Pay TV battle turning bitter; no agreement reached

March 7, 2011

A battle over fees between Dish Network and television station owner Lin TV Corp. caused 27 local stations to go dark for Dish subscribers Saturday.

The two companies faced a deadline that came and went at 2 a.m. Saturday without a resolution. Among those affected by the conflict were Indianapolis stations WISH-TV and MyINDY-TV.

The companies traded accusations and gave conflicting versions of which pulled the plug.

Dish Network Corp. said Lin pulled its channels down at midnight, "holding viewers in 17 markets ... hostage" to coerce Dish to submit to Lin's demands for higher rates and that it refused to negotiate during the final hours.

Lin said it has "worked tirelessly" to negotiate with Dish. Lin also said that Dish removed the signals over its objection.

Both companies said negotiations were ongoing Saturday.

WISH-TV, the local CBS affiliate, posted a letter on its Web site that blamed Dish for the disruption. "We will continue to negotiate with DISH. Unfortunately, we do not know if, or when, we will reach an agreement," the letter says.

Neither side has said how many subscribers are affected. Lin stations are affiliates of CBS, Fox, NBC, ABC and the CW in 17 cities including Indianapolis; Providence, R.I.; and Buffalo, N.Y.

Such disputes have become increasingly common.

In October, a breakdown in negotiations between Cablevision Systems Corp. and News Corp.'s Fox network left 3 million Cablevision subscribers in the New York area without Fox programming for 15 days — including through two World Series games — after the broadcaster pulled its signal.

Lin is based in Providence. Dish Network Corp. is headquartered in Englewood, Colo.

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