Dish Network Pulls Plug on Grant Stations Over Retrans Deal

By Kevin Eck 

Dish Network subscribers won’t be able watch their favorite shows on stations owned by Grant Communications until the two settle their dispute over retransmission fees.

On Saturday February 16, Grant’s four FOX affiliates, WZDX in Huntsville, AL, WFXR, Roanoke,VA, KLJB in Quad Cities and WLAX-WEUX in La Crosse, WI, as well as two CW stations and one MyNetworkTV station went dark as part of the dispute.

WZDX, the FOX affiliate in Huntsville posted a statement about the dispute on its website saying,

Contrary to what you may have been told or read, FOX 54 has asked Dish to pay rates comparable to those being paid by your local cable systems now. That is fair and equitable, as already determined by the marketplace. We understand the public’s frustration with this situation, and we remain committed to reaching a solution with Dish without disrupting FOX 54’s programming.

Dish responded by blaming Grant for the blackout. “We are disappointed that Grant has chosen to be unreasonable in its demands, as many Dish customers in the Grant markets enjoy their Fox programming,” Sruta Vootukuru, Dish director of programming told Broadcasting & Cable. “Grant’s request that Dish pay three times what it paid just over a year ago is well beyond market rates, and we hope Grant will become more reasonable so we can make these channels available to our customers.”

While the statement on the website for Grant’s Roanoke FOX station said, “Please rest assured our entire management staffs are working around the clock, trying to come to an agreement with the Dish Network comparable to all our other cable agreements.  However, Dish continues to not answer our phone calls or meet with our negotiating team, dragging out the process at their own pace.”