Enlewood, Colorado — June 12, 2016 — DISH reported today that Tribune Broadcasting Company chose to black out DISH customers’ access to 42 local channels in 33 markets across 34 states and the District of Columbia, intentionally harming and exploiting millions of innocent consumers in an effort to raise carriage rates and gain negotiating leverage for an unrelated cable channel with declining viewership, WGN America.
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 Warren Schlichting, DISH executive vice president of Programming. “Actions like Tribune’s are what drive price increases and feed customer frustration for our industry. With DISH’s free antenna, customers will continue to receive Tribune channels for free over the air, along with dozens of other broadcast channels not normally available to pay-TV customers.”
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.