Press release from Gray Television, Jan. 16, 2017:
Gray Television, Inc. announced today that pay-TV provider Dish Network has decided to stop carrying all television stations owned and/or operated by Gray Television at 7:00 pm Eastern on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. Dish currently carries 99 separate program streams under its expiring carriage agreement with Gray.
“We are shocked and disappointed to learn that Dish Network has decided to impose yet another blackout on its customers by taking away our stations, which broadcast some of the most highly rated programming on any broadcast or cable channel in their markets,” said Kevin Latek, Gray’s Chief Legal and Development Officer.
Gray Television owns the number one- or number two-ranked television station in over 50 markets. In many of these markets, Gray’s television stations have higher ratings in certain dayparts than every other broadcast station and cable channel combined. Despite the obvious popularity of Gray’s stations, Dish has refused after many months to even begin negotiating carriage terms that are consistent with those that Dish has provided to other broadcasters and cable channels.
Recently, Gray offered Dish an extension that would have continued carriage beyond tomorrow’s deadline, but Dish refused to accept it. Neither our stations nor the government nor Dish’s millions of fee-paying customers can force Dish to continue carrying our stations when, as here, it chooses to take leading stations off of its system for perceived leverage in private carriage negotiations. Indeed, in the last two years, Dish has dropped more than 200 local television stations. And in just the last two weeks, Dish has dropped or threatened to drop over 115 additional local broadcast channels owned and/or operated by Gray Television as well as local independent broadcasters Bonten Media, Griffin Communications, and Bonneville.
For these reasons, it is not likely that any blackout imposed by Dish tomorrow will end soon. Sadly, Dish customers who wish to receive our award winning and highly rated programming will most likely need to switch to another pay-TV provider.
To be clear, Dish’s actions will not affect customers of Directv, Comcast Xfinity, Charter Spectrum, Cox Cable and other local providers. Our company has reached long term agreements with several hundred other major cable and satellite distributors, virtually all without any disruptions or even public statements about our negotiations.
“It is unfortunate that Dish does not see the same value in our programming as every other operator. Regardless, we will continue to offer the same high quality programming as we always have, and we will continue to serve our community as we have done for decades,” said Mr. Latek.