Dish, Bonneville contract impasse results in NBC blackout in Salt Lake City

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.  Despite Dish Network’s offer to extend contract negotiations, Bonneville International Corp. blacked out Dish customers’ access Thursday afternoon to KSL-TV (NBC) in Salt Lake City, according to a press release from Dish Network.

“Bonneville’s blackout impacts customers’ access to KSL-TV in the Salt Lake City area only,” Dish Corporate Communications agent Courtney Culpepper told St. George News.

However, the Salt Lake City direct marketing area, or media market, includes the entire state of Utah and parts of neighboring states, accounting for users in Southern Utah and other regions experiencing the blackout as well.

Culpepper was unable to provide any information as to how long the blackout would be in effect or if regions south of Salt Lake would have service similarly affected.

Bonneville has used the move to gain deal leverage as it seeks above-market rate increases nearly 250 percent the current Dish rate, the release said. The broadcaster has also refused Dish’s offer to match the rates paid by other pay-TV providers.

Dish Network LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dish Network Corporation, traded on the Nasdaq stock exchange as DISH.

“With Dish willing to grant an extension and a retroactive true-up on rates, Bonneville had nothing to lose and consumers had everything to gain by leaving the channel up,” said Warren Schlichting, DISH executive vice president of programming. “Instead, Bonneville chose to turn its back on its public interest obligations and use innocent consumers as bargaining chips.”

Dish and Bonneville had been making steady progress in their recent negotiations, Dish’s news release stated, and Dish was hopeful that they would come to a mutual agreement to renew carriage of KSL-TV. In that spirit, Dish offered a short-term contract extension to Bonneville that would include a retroactive true-up when new rates were agreed upon and would preserve the ability of Dish customers to access KSL-TV while negotiations continued. The true-up would ensure that Bonneville was made whole at the new rates for the period of any contract extension.

“We are actively working to negotiate an agreement that promptly returns this content to Dish’s programming lineup,” added Schlichting.

Requests for comment from Bonneville were not immediately responded to as this report publishes.

Need for Retransmission Consent Reform

“Bonneville’s decision to cut ties with Dish customers is a prime example of why Washington needs to stand up for consumers and end local channel blackouts,” said R. Stanton Dodge, Dish executive vice president and general counsel. “Broadcasters like Bonneville use their in-market monopoly power to put profits ahead of the public interests they are supposed to serve.”

Along with other pay-TV companies and public interest groups that form the American Television Alliance, Dish has called for the U.S. Congress to revamp the out-of-date laws that favor these high fees and unnecessary blackouts, Dish’s news release said. 

Dodge continued: “We continue to urge the FCC and Congress to update a system that emboldens broadcasters to black out consumers.”

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, Dish state in its news release. Citing SNL Kagan, a leading source on the media industry, Dish’s release states broadcast fees burdening pay-TV consumers will reach an unprecedented $7.7 billion in 2016. These same rates, for channels available free over the air, were as low as $215 million in 2006, soared to $4.9 billion in 2014 and are expected to more than double to reach $11.6 billion in 2022. 

Dish customers can visit DishPromise.com for more information.

About Dish Network Corp.

DISH Network Corp., through its subsidiaries, provides approximately 13.643 million pay-TV subscribers, as of September 30, 2016, with the highest-quality programming and technology with the most choices at the best value, according to its news release. DISH offers a high definition line-up with more than 200 national HD channels, the most international channels and award-winning HD and DVR technology. DISH Network Corporation is a Fortune 200 company. 

Ed. note: Report updated Dec. 31 to note the reach of the Salt Lake DMA, accounting for users beyond Salt Lake City experiencing the blackout.

Email: jkuzmanic@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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7 Comments

  • wilbur December 30, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    Most likely none of these customers will miss (N)othing (B)ut (C)linton channel anyway.

    • DB December 30, 2016 at 4:00 pm

      Yea, I’m sitting here trying to remember when I last watched NBC, unless they were carrying the Super Bowl or something like that. (I don’t think they were)

    • .... December 30, 2016 at 10:44 pm

      Wilbur. that was really lame.

      • Real Life December 31, 2016 at 8:12 am

        You are calling a comment lame? LOL! Oh the irony.

  • Utahguns December 30, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    It’s not time to boycott Dish…it’s time to boycott Bonneville.
    When you look at both sides of the argument, its Bonneville that’s being greedy.

    I’ve been refusing to go to the KSL.com website for two years now, and I don’t feel I’m missing anything.

  • .... December 30, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    I can’t remember the last time I viewed NBC. I’m sure there won’t be an uproar over this

  • CaliGirl December 31, 2016 at 8:26 am

    Eh, throw an antenna on the house and tell your satellite or cable company to take a hike. You would be amazed how many channels you receive and how clear the picture comes in. Not to mention the money you’ll save!

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