LIN and DISH Stare Down Friday Retrans Deadline as FCC Meets to Discuss the Issue

By Andrew Gauthier 

LIN Media‘s current retrans agreement with DISH Network expires at midnight on Friday and the company is ready to pull 27 of its stations off of the satellite service, just at the FCC plans to review the rules governing carriage negotiations.

The showdown is just the latest in a long line of recent disputes between station owners and service providers as both try to affirm their standing in an ever-evolving media landscape.

“Our highly rated television stations are important assets to our local communities and it is unfortunate that DISH does not recognize their fair market value,” said Vincent Sadusky, LIN’s president and CEO, in a statement.

According to DISH, LIN is asking for “more than a 140 percent rate hike.”  With the deadline looming, the two parties are continuing negotiations and both sides say that they’re hopeful that a middle ground can be reached by Friday.

The LIN-DISH dispute comes at a particularly significant time for retrans negotiations since the FCC is set to examine the rules governing the relationship between broadcasters and cable/satellite companies this week.

It’s possible that DISH is slowing down negotiations with LIN, waiting to see if the FCC issues any rule changes.

“While this is just another retrans battle, the timing is interesting,” an analyst with Wells Fargo Securities told Adweek recently. “We think DISH is holding out due to the FCC meeting.”

The FCC, though, is telling broadcasters and cable companies, Hey, don’t wait for us.

“Please go forward and continue to negotiate and continue to reach deals,” FCC member Robert McDowell advised this week. “Don’t rely on government to reach that deal for you.”

Here’s a list of LIN stations that are affected by the DISH negotiations:

Albuquerque: KRQE and KASA
Austin: KXAN and KNVA
Buffalo: WIVB and WNLO
Columbus: WWHO
Ft. Wayne: WANE
Grand Rapids: WOOD-WOTV
Green Bay: WLUK
Indianapolis: WISH and WNDY
Lafayette: WLFI
Mobile: WALA and WFNA
New Haven: WTNH and WCTX
Norfolk: WAVY and WVBT
Providence: WPRI and WNAC
Springfield, MA: WWLP
Terre Haute: WTHI
Toledo: WUPW