December 19, 2014

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Dish blacks out Channels 19 and 43

Satellite provider Dish TV has stopped serving up a couple of local channels. As of midnight Wednesday, the company dropped Cleveland channels WOIO-TV 19 and WUAB-TV 43.

Dish TV and Raycom Media, which owns the two stations, are blaming one another for the stalemate in contract talks leading to the blacking out of the two channels for Dish TV customers across Northeast Ohio.

Channel 19 carries CBS programs such as “NCIS,” “Two And A Half Men” and Cleveland Browns football games, none of which will be seen by Dish customers as the impasse continues.

Dish contends it has offered to pay “the same rates as its primary competitors for the same programming” but says Raycom Media, which owns the two channels, is refusing to come to terms on a new contract for Cleveland-area customers, including those in Lorain County.

Dish TV provided a statement Thursday in which it said the Montgomery-Ala.-based Raycom was demanding a rate increase of four times what it pays now for rights to carry various local TV channels in 36 markets, including Cleveland.

“We’re asking for a very similar agreement to what we have with every other cable and satellite provider through all of Northeast Ohio,” Rob Boenau, marketing director for WOIO-TV, said Thursday. “We’re pitching one (contract proposal) that’s on par with everything else out there. We’re not asking for some crazy out-of-line thing.”

Both sides have been talking for six months, according to Boenau, who cited non-disclosure terms for declining to detail financial figures or the length of the contract being sought.
“Generally we are able to come to agreement on a new contract before the end of the previous one,” Boenau said.

He noted the station’s management is receiving several updates a day on the status of talks.

“It’s a fairly long and detailed process, but each day we’re getting a little closer,” Boenau said. “We’re just not there yet.”

Calls to Dish TV and Raycom corporate offices seeking comment were not returned Thursday.

WUAB-TV Channel 43 is an independent Cleveland station that carries MyNetworkTV programming 8 to 10 p.m. weeknights and reruns of older shows in other time periods.

Boenau said that viewers have other satellite and cable providers they can do business with, including DirecTV, AT&T U Verse and Time Warner Cable. As a last resort, viewers could even do something really retro. “You can always get WOIO for free over the air,” Boenau said.

The station’s nightly newscasts also are streamed live online.

The dispute between Raycom and Dish TV is also affecting TV viewers in dozens of other markets nationwide, including Toledo and Cincinnati, according to Dish TV.

Disputes between cable TV networks cable or satellite TV providers are nothing new. A few years ago, contracts between Time Warner Cable and major networks ABC and ESPN expired, but the very-popular channels remained on the air as new terms were reached.

Dish TV has about 14 million customers in the U.S., according to the company’s website.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146
or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.