Despite the offer from Dish Network to extend the contract negotiations, Bonneville International Corp. blacked out Dish customers’ access to KSL-TV in Salt Lake City. Dish Network commented in a news release that, “Bonneville’s blackout impacts customers’ access to KSL-TV in the Salt Lake City area only.”
The Salt Lake City media market includes the complete state of Utah and some parts of the neighboring states and accounts for users in Southern Utah and other areas that experience the blackout. Dish Corporate Communications agent, Courtney Culpepper, was not able to offer details on how long the blackout would be in effect or if the areas that are south of Salt Lake would be affected by the blackout.
The press release by Dish said that Bonneville has made use of the move to gain deal leverage as they seek to get above market rate increases, which is about 250 percent the current rate paid by Dish Network. Bonneville has also refused to accept Dish’s offer to match the rates that are paid by the other pay-TV providers.
“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, who is the executive vice president of programming in DISH. “Instead, Bonneville chose to turn its back on its public interest obligations and use innocent consumers as bargaining chips.”
Bonneville and Dish were making good progress in their negotiations and Dish was much hopeful that they would be able to make a mutual agreement to renew the carriage of KSL-TV. With this in mind, Dish offered a contract extension for a short term to Bonneville, which included a retroactive true up when new rates were agreed upon and would offer the ability to Dish users to watch KSL-TV while the negotiations between the parties are going on. The true up would make sure that Bonneville was made whole at the new rates for the period of extension of the contract.
“We are actively working to negotiate an agreement that promptly returns this content to Dish’s programming lineup,” added Schlichting. “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.”