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WSAV, DISH TV agreement to end at midnight

POSTED: October 1, 2013 3:18 p.m.

(Updated with reponse from DISH TV.)

Deb Thompson, general manager at WSAV TV, sent the following as an explanation of what is happening and what may happen between WSAV-TV, its parent company and DISH TV.

The current retransmission contract between WSAV and our parent company Media General with DISH Network will expire tonight (9/30/13) at midnight. If a new agreement is not reached by then, DISH, by law, cannot carry our station on its for-profit satellite system. We are doing everything it can to reach a fair resolution with DISH before the contract expires and avoid any disruption of service.  All we are asking is to be fairly compensated for our programming, at a rate 4-5x less than we know DISH currently pays to cable channels like ESPN.

WSAV and Media General have reached hundreds of fair, market-based agreements over many years with every other cable, satellite and telephone company that carries our stations on their Pay-TV systems. We have never experienced a disruption of service with any Pay-TV company because of an impasse. On the other hand, local stations are blacked out on DISH more than on any other pay-TV system. In the past three years, DISH has blacked-out local broadcast stations a total of 29 times, including WTOC, here locally.

Viewers can receive updates and register their support for WSAV by visiting The BEST way to help us prevent this from happening is for viewers to make their voices heard by calling DISH Network at 1-888-615-3725 and telling them they want to keep WSAV.  

In the event that WSAV is no longer carried by DISH, viewers may continue to watch our local news, sports and network programming by switching to an alternative pay-TV service provider, and we by utilizing a basic over-the-air antenna to get our programs for free.  Additionally, our local news is streamed each day on and available  24/7 along with other content, on our website at our mobile site. WSAV’s mobile news, Sports (Friday Blitz) and weather APPs can be downloaded for free from Itunes and Android app store.

DISH TV released the following response:

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Media General blocked DISH customers in Savannah, Ga., from accessing WSAV (NBC channel 3) as the two parties continue to negotiate a new carriage agreement.

“We’ve attempted to reach a fair agreement via many avenues, but Media General remains immovable in its demands,” said Sruta Vootukuru, DISH director of programming. “They declined a contract extension, an offer from DISH to pay our competitors’ rates, and have now refused our willingness to match rates paid to other area broadcasters. Media General is overreaching by trying to force DISH customers to pay more than their neighbors.”

Media General rejected DISH’s offer of a short-term contract extension until Media General is acquired by Young Broadcasting, a broadcaster with which DISH has a long-term agreement in place.

At this time, the Richmond, Va.-based broadcaster has refused DISH the legal right to carry its programming until DISH agrees to pay more than five times what it currently pays for the same content.

Media General’s blackout also affects DISH customers in Augusta, Ga., Birmingham, Ala., Charleston, S.C., Columbus, Ga., Columbus, Ohio, Greenville, N.C., Greenville, S.C., Hattiesburg, Miss., Jackson, Miss., Mobile, Ala., Pensacola, Fla., Florence-Myrtle Beach, S.C., Providence, R.I., Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Roanoke-Lynchburg, Va., Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., and the Tri-Cities, Tenn., area.

“The impact of blackouts on consumers should be the focus of retransmission reform in Washington,” said Dave Shull, DISH executive vice president and chief commercial officer. “The outdated carriage rules have resulted in an historic number of blackouts with millions of subscribers impacted. It is time for reform.”

DISH has issued a proposal to Congress, backed by industry members, which would allow pay-TV providers to substitute another broadcast station during contract negotiations.

“The laws should keep consumers’ interest at the forefront instead of leaving them left in the dark while broadcasters take advantage of outdated rules. The broken system allows broadcasters to use their viewers to seek unsustainable profits instead of seeking to serve their viewers and their communities,” said Shull.

Last year, broadcasting companies across the country blacked out 91 channels on various pay-TV companies at various times; and an industry watchdog group, the American Television Alliance, has also called for the U.S. Congress to “revamp the out-of-date rules” that favor those blackouts.

To learn more about DISH’s negotiations with Media General, visit


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