While DISH works to reach an agreement, the company is offering "over-the-air" antennas at no cost so that customers in affected markets can watch Tribune's local broadcast channels for free.
"Tribune is demanding an unreasonable rate increase for channels that
are available for free over the air," said
FORCED BUNDLING AT ISSUE
In addition to asking for significant price increases for local channels, Tribune is attempting to "force bundle" an unrelated and low-performing cable channel, WGN America, with the media conglomerate's local broadcast stations.
"By attempting to force bundle its cable channel with its local broadcast stations, Tribune is using local viewers as leverage to raise rates for WGN America - a channel that is in decline," said Schlichting. "Tribune is seeking a significant rate increase despite decreasing viewership and recently losing access to Cubs baseball."
DISH viewership data reveals that viewership on WGN America is down on average more than 20 percent since the channel's launch as a cable network. Many of the shows available on WGN America are available on other channels carried by DISH.
"Consumers shouldn't have to pay twice for the same programming," said Schlichting.
DISH OFFER OF EXTENSION, TRUE-UP REJECTED
DISH was hopeful that it would come to a mutual agreement with Tribune to renew carriage of the media conglomerate's local stations. In that spirit, DISH offered a short-term contract extension to Tribune that would include a retroactive true-up when new rates were agreed upon, and would preserve the ability of DISH customers to access the Tribune local stations while negotiations continued. The true-up would ensure that Tribune was made whole at the new rates for the period of any contract extension.
"With DISH willing to grant an extension and a retroactive true-up on rates, Tribune had nothing to lose and consumers had everything to gain by leaving the channels up," said Schlichting. "Instead, Tribune chose to turn its back on its public interest obligations and use innocent consumers as bargaining chips."
NEED FOR RETRANSMISSION CONSENT REFORM
Aggressive attempts to tie together cable channels and local broadcast network stations, when the market power of a local broadcast monopoly is used as a negotiation lever, is called "forced bundling." Typically, forced bundling arrangements lead to price increases out of line with market rates.
"Tribune's attempt to engineer a forced bundling arrangement of its
cable channel and local broadcast stations is a prime example of why
"Actions like these are precisely the reason that
Along with other pay-TV companies and public interest groups that form
Read ATVA's comments on the NPRM filed with the
RISING RETRANSMISSION RATES
Each year, the cost to carry local broadcast stations rises far beyond
the rate of inflation, leading to blackouts across the country that
affect millions of subscribers of various pay-TV companies. According to
DISH customers can visit DISHPromise.com
for more information and to ask the
Tribune Broadcasting Company's action affects viewers of various
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