Judge rejects Dish TV’s motion to dismiss WISH-TV discrimination lawsuit

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A district court judge on Wednesday rejected Dish TV’s motion to dismiss a discrimination lawsuit brought against it by WISH-TV Channel 8 parent Circle City Broadcasting.

Indianapolis-based Circle City Broadcasting in March filed a lawsuit in district court in Indianapolis against Dish TV, accusing Dish of racial discrimination as the two sides negotiate over fees that WISH is seeking to be retransmitted on the satellite service.

DuJuan McCoy, owner and CEO of Circle City Broadcasting, and one of the nation’s leading Black television station owners, said in court filings that DISH’s decision was racially motivated.

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, made this week’s ruling to let the lawsuit proceed.

In her ruling, Judge Pratt found that Circle City has submitted “enough in the way of facts to at minimal, present a circumstantial case for intentional discrimination.”

Circle City Broadcasting contends in the lawsuit that “the evidence will show that Dish insists on maintaining the industry’s decades-long policies and practices of discriminating against minority-owned broadcasters and historically disadvantaged business by, on information and belief, paying the non-minority broadcasters significant fees to rebroadcast their stations and channels while offering practically no fees to the historically disadvantaged broadcaster or programmer for the exact same or superior programming.”

McCoy pointed out that WISH-TV has seen a number of improvements since he acquired the station from Nexstar Broadcasting in 2019, including the addition of new programming and specialty reporters.

McCoy alleges Dish provided compensation to the stations’ former owner, Nexstar, which the suit labels a “large, historically white-owned” publicly traded corporation.

Circle City is suing “for retransmission fees at a fair market rate, other lost revenue, actual and punitive damages, interest, reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs resulting from the intentional misconduct exhibited by AT&T.” It did not specify a dollar amount.

Circle City Broadcasting is joined in the lawsuit by the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters.

McCoy and Circle City Broadcasting have a similar suit pending in the same court against AT&T and DirecTV cable and satellite services.

Dish TV declined to comment on the court’s decision.

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