Dish Network customers in 10 markets with ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox television stations owned by Apollo Global Asset Management, a private equity firm, have been without those stations since Saturday, Jan. 18. The case is another instance of a dispute between local station owners and a cable or satellite provider, with Dish claiming Apollo was seeking double the rate it was previously paying to transmit the stations to its customers. Dish asked to extend the current deal through at least Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 2, but the deal was rejected.
"Apollo doesn't care how high a customer's bill gets. It's trying to squeeze every last penny out of consumers to recoup the billions it spent buying these stations," Andy LeCuyer, Dish senior VP of programming, said in a statement, reports Broadcasting & Cable. "They are fund managers built to serve wealthy private investors, not local viewers. For Apollo it’s about a number. For Dish it’s about customers."
Dish Network customers in the 10 markets lost the Apollo-owned stations at 7 p.m. ET on Jan. 18, just hours before the NFL conference championships on Jan. 19.
The following stations are affected by the blackout:
- KLAX-TV (ABC, Alexandria, Louisiana)
- WICZ-TV, (FOX, Binghamton, New York)
- WBPN (MNT, Binghamton, New York)
- KIEM-TV (NBC, Eureka, California)
- KVIQ-TV (CBS, Eureka, California)
- WABG-TV (ABC, Greenwood-Greenville, Mississippi)
- WABGD-TV, (FOX, Greenwood-Greenville, Mississippi)
- WNBD-TV, (NBC, Greenwood-Greenville, Mississippi)
- WXVT-TV (CBS, Greenwood-Greenville, Mississippi)
- KPVI-TV (NBC, Idaho Falls-Pocatello, Idaho)
- KMVU-TV (FOX, Medford-Klamath Falls, Oregon)
- KFBI-TV (MNT, Medford-Klamath Falls, Oregon)
- KAYU-TV (FOX, Spokane, Washington)
- WSYT-TV (FOX, Syracuse, New York)
- WNYS-TV (MNT, Syracuse, New York)
- KCYU-TV (FOX, Yakima-Pasco-Richland-Kennewick, Washington)
- KSWT-TV (CBS, Yuma AZ - El Centro, California)
- KYMA-TV (NBC, Yuma AZ - El Centro, California)
"Apollo intentionally delayed negotiations and purposely chose NFL Championship weekend to remove its channels, to inflict maximum pain for consumers," LeCuyer added. "The channels could come back today if Apollo would give us the green light. On behalf of customers, we ask Apollo to stop punishing its own viewers so we can focus on reaching a fair deal."
The websites for the Apollo stations posted generic statements, in which they urge Dish customers to "call Dish today to let them know how you feel" and "Let Dish know that you do have other options, like DirecTV and Suddenlink."
The 10 stations were previously owned by Northwest Broadcasting, which had a dispute with DirecTV last year that left customers without its stations for eight months, notes Multichannel.
Apollo also owns 14 stations it acquired from Cox Enterprises last year. Dish signed a multi-year deal with Cox just before those stations went to Apollo. Dish avoided a blackout for those channels after getting a temporary restraining order in Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.
"Apollo's attempt to rip up an existing multiyear contract with Dish that was signed just last spring is like a bank taking over a mortgage and then increasing the homeowner’s monthly payment," LeCuyer said.
Dish offered free antennas to qualifying customers in the 10 markets to capture the broadcast signals of the local stations.
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