KCRG-TV9 drops off DISH Network

Retransmission extension expires, no agreement

Dave DeWitte
Published: December 18 2012 | 4:30 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 3:30 am in
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DISH Network subscribers lost access to KCRG-TV9 at noon Tuesday after a retransmission agreement between the satellite entertainment network and the Cedar Rapids-based ABC affiliate expired.

A three-year retransmission agreement between DISH Network and KCRG originally expired at midnight Nov. 30, but was extended by KCRG until noon Tuesday in hopes of a settlement.

A decision was made by The Gazette Co., which owns KCRG-TV9 and The Gazette newspaper, not to extend the deadline again, according to Tim McDougall, vice president of products for The Gazette Co.

KCRG made its last counter offer about one week ago and had received no response late Tuesday morning, McDougall said.

"We'd prefer to work something out," McDougall said. "That would be our preference, but we're having a hard time getting them to the table."

DISH Network issued a statement stating KCRG "rejected DISH's offer to pay a sizable rate increase that aligns with the rate our primary competitor pays. Without a signed contract, DISH no longer has the legal right to carry those channels."

Andrew Le Cuyer, DISH vice president of programming, said DISH is hopeful that KCRG will negotiate "in more realistic terms as soon as possible, so we can bring this channel back to our customers."

The amount sought for KCRG-TV9 is more than six times what DISH pays now for the same content, according to DISH.

KCRG leaders said the multiple of the increase it is seeking sounds large because it comes from a low base.

KCRG and many other network affiliates had not been charging satellite providers at all to run their programming until the economics of broadcasting shifted in recent years. The major networks began requiring local affiliates to pay for their programming instead of paying them to broadcast their programming. Local network affiliates like KCRG-TV9 are also facing higher costs of syndicated programming and producing local news, McDougall said.

McDougall said KCRG consistently has more viewers in its market than any other station, including both broadcast affiliates and non-broadcast channels such as ESPN.

"DISH resells our signal to subscribers at a marked-up rate and, while we respect them as a partner, we believe they should pay a fair price for retransmitting our signal," McDougall said last week.

KCRG was advising DISH Network subscribers who want to continue viewing KCRG to install an off-air antenna, to switch to a cable TV provider or another satellite TV provider, or to contact DISH Network to express their desire to keep KCRG-TV9.

KCRG-TV9 also has sought in negotiations for DISH Network to add its KCRG 9.2 sister station. The amount KCRG was asking for retransmission rights was not disclosed.

Viewers can also watch live streaming newscasts on mobile devices by downloading the Syncbak app from Google Play or the Apple Store, and obtain updated information on the KCRG-TV9 Mobile news app, and the KCRG-TVI First Alert weather app.

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