The retransmission fight between Media General and Dish is now being waged at the Federal Communications Commission. In a filing with the agency, Media General all but called Dish a liar for accusations the satellite company made about the broadcaster in its complaint filed with the FCC last month.
Dish's carriage deal with Media General expired on Oct. 1. Since then, the broadcaster's stations in 17 markets like Tampa, Fla. and Columbus, Ohio, have been unavailable to Dish's subscribers.
"Since 1992, no Media General station has ever gone dark as a result of a retransmission consent dispute," Media General wrote. "Dish, by contrast, has been responsible for more takedowns over the last three years than any other [multichannel video programming distributor]."
After detailing the blow-by-blow negotiations and communications, Media General said the commission should not only dismiss Dish's complaint, but refer Dish to the FCC's enforcement bureau for abusing the commission's processes and for misrepresenting the facts. Media General also asks the FCC to award the company reasonable attorneys fees covering its response to Dish's complaint.
The FCC's authority in retransmission consent fights has been limited to intervening only when one party fails to negotiate in good faith. The agency has an open proceeding on retransmission consent that more specifically addresses what constitutes a good faith negotiation, but for the most part, the agency has addressed such disputes at an arm's length. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said Thursday in a press conference that he will decide for himself whether or not the FCC has the authority to end retransmission standoffs.