March 27, 2017

The truth about ongoing negotiations with DISH

Since March 3rd, KHBS/KHOG and the Arkansas CW's programming has been unavailable to DISH customers. DISH has made several misleading statements to its subscribers during the impasse that we would like to address.

Below is the truth about where current negotiations stand between Hearst Television, parent company of KHBS/KHOG and the Arkansas CW, and DISH.
1. Hearst Television is trying to double what DISH pays today.
FALSE. The increase we are seeking is completely in line with what other providers are paying us and is certainly not double what DISH was previously paying. This amount is a fraction of what DISH charges viewers to watch our programming. The payments we receive from distributors like DISH help us make significant investments in our award-winning local news and life-saving weather reporting, as well as pay for increasingly expensive network content such as professional sports, awards shows and other live events.
2. DISH says it has offered to pay Hearst Television the rates paid by DirecTV.
FALSE. DISH is clearly attempting to mislead its customers. As DISH knows too well, it is customary for companies to protect against the disclosure of confidential information included within their agreements to competitors. As such, we cannot disclose the terms of our DirecTV deal to DISH.
3. It doesn’t make sense that DISH should pay for TV stations that are available for free over-the-air.
FALSE. DISH is a redistributor of video content and DISH exists solely to make a profit from selling programming like ours. It’s no different than other companies that sell products or services that are otherwise available for free. For example, water is free, but when a company packages it in bottles or pipes it into your home, they charge you for it. In this case, DISH takes our stations’ signals, repackages them and then sells them to you for a healthy profit. The bottom line is DISH is making money delivering our stations’ signals without fairly compensating us. Broadcast television is free to consumers; but it is not free to companies seeking to profit from it.

4. DISH offered to extend the agreement and Hearst Television refused.
FALSE. Our agreement with DISH expired at 11:59 p.m. on February 28. In hopes of reaching a fair agreement, we extended our agreement another forty-eight (48) hours, but DISH refused to offer a meaningful counter-proposal. Nonetheless, our negotiators continue efforts to reach an agreement; however, it remains clear that DISH does not intend to make a reasonable proposal.
5. DISH doesn’t experience many programming disruptions.
FALSEDISH has a well-documented history of outages. DISH uses blackouts as a tactic to force local stations and cable networks to agree to unfair terms. Since 2015, DISH has been responsible for nearly 60% of all blackouts of local stations across the U.S. In fact, since this past Christmas, DISH has been in a dispute with a local broadcaster nearly every day. We apologize for the inconvenience caused by DISH’s actions. Our team remains committed to completing a deal as quickly as possible and will work every day to do so.

6. DISH says that Hearst Television is at fault for the dispute.
FALSE. We won't point fingers. We recognize it takes two parties to reach an agreement. But have you ever asked yourself why DISH seems to experience more blackouts and outages than other pay-TV distributors? Well, the truth is the facts speak for themselves. DISH has a well-documented history of behaving badly. Since 2011, DISH has removed more than 450 local stations from their systems across the U.S. and, since 2015 alone, DISH has been responsible for over 250 local station outages. In fact, since 2015 DISH has been responsible for more outages than all other pay-TV distributors combined. DISH’s strategy isn’t the answer -- it’s the problem. Instead of attempting to negotiate fair and reasonable agreements, DISH employs a strategy of outages and delays to try and force the hand of local broadcasters. In the end, DISH’s subscribers are the ones who suffer.
7. DISH says Hearst Television has refused to negotiate.
FALSE. Our negotiating team has been ready and willing to complete a deal since before the impasse occurred. We remain available to complete a deal at any time. Unfortunately, it takes two parties to reach an agreement. To date, DISH has refused to make reasonable proposals. Based on DISH’s well-documented negotiating history, this appears to be part of their strategy to force broadcasters into long-term outages.
8. DISH subscribers are receiving what they’re paying for.
FALSE. During this impasse, DISH has been charging you for programming you’re not receiving. We don’t think that’s fair. While DISH is not required to offer a credit, we have heard from some of our viewers that DISH is offering a credit or additional programming at no charge for a period of time. DISH subscribers that are not receiving our stations can call DISH at 1-800-333-3474 to ask for a credit or a refund and ask to restore our stations.

9. DISH says this dispute will be over shortly.
FALSE. Unfortunately, we can’t predict how long this impasse will last. In the past several years, DISH has had numerous outages that have lasted for months, including last summer when they had an impasse that lasted 3 months. Our negotiators will continue to work hard to pursue a resolution and restore programming.
10. DISH supports the local community.
FALSEIn the past two years, DISH has removed more local broadcast stations from its system than any other pay-TV provider, including important local news and weather programming. The reality is when this dispute is resolved only one party will remain to serve the local community. Hearst Television will continue to invest in high-quality programming and technology that allows us to deliver the best local news and weather, as well as network programming. We will continue to support local non-profit organizations and to promote the causes that are most important to your community because, in the end, we live and work in those same communities. We are local and we are proud to serve our communities.
To DISH Subscribers:
As we, Hearst Television, parent of KHBS/KHOG and the Arkansas CW, continue to work towards a resolution of our impasse with DISH Network, I want to share with you our appreciation for your patience. We understand that you are frustrated that this impasse has taken so long to resolve—so are we. As a television viewer, nothing is more frustrating than missing your favorite station’s programming, such as KHBS/KHOG and the Arkansas CW’s local news and weather. Unfortunately, if you’re a DISH subscriber, you’ve probably become accustomed to this phenomenon. Over the past several years, DISH has been the most egregious abuser of pay-TV disputes within the industry. While the length of these disputes has varied, in numerous instances DISH has had outages that have lasted several months. Unfortunately, to date DISH’s lack of engagement and unwillingness to present a fair proposal suggest that DISH intends to employ their age-old strategy of a long-term impasse.
In recent months, Hearst Television has successfully completed a number of distribution agreements with other pay-TV providers. We have consistently sought to negotiate a deal that reflects the current marketplace, as represented by those deals. In response, DISH has simply engaged in doublespeak. On the one hand DISH has publicly stated that they’re willing to accept other deals that Hearst Television has successfully concluded; yet, at the same time, DISH continues to offer us terms, including rates, that are so obviously below the marketplace that they could not be viewed as a genuine proposal by any objective participant.
DISH has suggested that Hearst Television has been unwilling to negotiate. This is simply untrue. As we have said to DISH all along, we remain ready and willing to conclude a deal promptly. In contrast, DISH has said that they’re available day and night to reach an agreement, and yet they’ve refused to modify their completely off-market terms in any meaningful way. Given the foregoing and DISH’s extensive history of outages, we suspect they will employ any scheme that serves to delay meaningful discussions. While Hearst Television can’t force DISH to negotiate, we can assure you that we remain committed to reaching a fair deal, and we will work each and every day to make that happen.
Again, we apologize for the inconvenience this impasse has caused and look forward to providing you the very best in national and local programming as soon as possible.
Please call DISH at 1-800-333-3474 and tell them you won't wait a day longer.
Jordan Wertlieb
President, Hearst Television