Posted August 12, 2008
We continue to hear from many of our viewers who have been unable to watch Channel 8 (KLKN-TV/DT) on the DISH Network since July 31. The majority of the questions we've received in the past few days are: Are your talks continuing? Is progress being made? Are you any closer to a resolution? What do you foresee in the way of chances that this will get settled...and when? Do I need to cancel DISH and explore other options to receive Channel 8 KLKN-TV? Allow me to answer these questions as best I can.
Our company has presented several proposals to DISH in the spirit of reaching an accommodation only to have each of those proposals rejected to date. Our most recent counter-proposal was submitted last Thursday, August 7 and DISH has "gone silent" since then. In short, we have attempted to reason with DISH in a good faith manner and compromised about as much as we can consistent with responsible business practices. I am less hopeful than I was a week ago that we can reach a fair and equitable agreement carriage agreement with DISH anytime soon. That leaves our DISH viewers with a couple of options.
First, consider contacting DISH if you haven't already done so. They're the ones to whom your sending a check each month! You can call Eric Sahl, DISH Program Executive, at 1-303-723-1515 or the Customer Service Center at 1-888-284-7116. You can also send Mr. Sahl an email to: email@example.com. In the meantime, we will continue to honor the pledge we made to our viewers from the beginning of this dispute: to work diligently with DISH to reach an agreement that's fair and equitable to both parties. If DISH would make the same pledge to their customers, Channel 8 could be back up on their satellite system in very short order.
Second, you may wish to seriously consider other satellite (e.g., DirecTV) and cable providers which continue to carry Channel 8 KLKNTV without interruption. Or you may want to explore the use of an antenna to receive Channel 8 KLKN-TV over the air as many viewers have told us they've already done. These options will ensure that you don't miss the various local newscasts produced by the Channel 8 Eyewitness News team which was honored just last week by the Nebraska Broadcasters Association with an award for "Best Newscast" (the only station in the Lincoln/Kearney/Hastings/Grand Island market to be recognized in such a manner)...or the Channel 8 Eyewitness News Sports team's comprehensive coverage of high school football on the Sports Blitz....or local sports programming such as Big 12 Basketball...or Channel 8 KLKN-TV's syndicated program offerings including Dr. Phil, Ellen, Martha Stewart, or Deal Or No Deal (the season's hot new syndicated version of the popular NBC game show). Or the upcoming season premieres of popular ABC primetime programs such as Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Brothers & Sisters, Dancing With The Stars, or Boston Legal...or ABC daytime programming such as The View, All My Children or General Hospital...or ABC News programming such as Good Morning America, World News With Charles Gibson, or Nightline...or ESPN on ABC sports programming such as College Football and NASCAR's Race for the Sprint Cup.
In closing, a point that was made in an earlier viewer advisory bears repeating. While Channel 8 KLKN-TV will allow anyone to receive our programming for personal use for FREE by using an antenna, we simply can't allow a video provider such as DISH to take our signal and re-sell it to the public without compensating us in a reasonable and equitable manner. But DISH apparently believes that it should be entitled to take our local, syndicated and network programs -- in which we've invested heavily -- and charge people to view it without compensating us fairly. We must and will fight to protect our programming investment. Thank you again for your support and understanding of our position.
President & COO
Citadel Communications Company
3903 Westown Parkway
West Des Moines, IA 50266
August 7, 2008
In our continuing effort to keep DISH Network subscribers informed on the status of our carriage dispute, here are some answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" that we've received since DISH removed Channel 8 KLKN-TV / DT from their system on July 31:
1. Are you still working with DISH to reach an agreement?
Absolutely yes. While our original proposal was fair and reasonable, we continue to have a dialogue with DISH to honor a pledge we made to our loyal viewers that we'd work diligently to reach a new agreement that's acceptable and equitable to both parties. Their public assertions that KLKN-TV is asking for an "excessive" increase in the carriage fees paid to us are off base. The simple fact is that DISH charges each subscriber at least $4.99 per month to receive the local stations. What they pay all the local stations together in the form of carriage fees does not come close to this amount. And because they pay no copyright royalties for this local programming, the significant majority of what DISH collects from their subscribers goes right to their overhead...and profit!
2. If DISH agrees to KLKN-TV 's request, won't they be "forced" to raise my monthly bill?
KLKN-TV, of course, has no control over what DISH Network or any other video provider charges its customers. But as pointed out above, KLKN-TV is asking for a small fraction of what DISH is already charging their subscribers for the local channels each and every month. DISH will have to determine for themselves whether or not the high profit margin they already make on the local channels package warrants an increase in rates...but we doubt very much that it does.
3. DISH is telling us that you "don't care" about your viewers or are otherwise taking us for granted. Is that true?
Of course not. We have stated from the outset that having our viewers -- and DISH's subscribers -- placed in the middle of this business dispute is unfortunate and unnecessary. But DISH gave us little choice but to have them remove KLKN-TV from their system. While we will allow anyone to receive our programming for personal use for FREE by using an antenna, we simply can't allow a video provider like DISH to take our signal and re-sell it to the public without compensating us in a fair and reasonable manner in return.
4. If this dispute isn't settled soon, won't DISH simply replace your station with an ABC station from another market?
No. For many years, DISH engaged in a massive, nationwide pattern and practice of copyright infringement by delivering out-of-market network signals to subscribers who were not legally eligible to receive them. But on December 1, 2006, a federal court finally stepped in and permanently barred DISH from continuing this practice. Put simply, DISH is legally prohibited from making another ABC station available to subscribers in KLKN-TV's television market, with the exception of KHGI.
5. What are my options for getting KLKN-TV programming?
Other cable and satellite providers are continuing to provide Channel 8 without interruption; many of them are offering special incentives to make the switch from DISH. In addition, most viewers may use an antenna and receive Channel 8 KLKN-TV over-the-air for free.
6. How I do I get in touch with someone at the DISH Network to express my views?
As many of our viewers have pointed out to us, DISH is all too happy to provide their subscribers with the name and telephone number of the top executive at KLKN-TV....but not nearly so quick to offer the same information about themselves. You may call Eric Sahl (the "star" of the infomercial that is running non-stop on the channel normally reserved for KLKN-TV) at 1-303-723-1515 or the Customer Service Center at 1-888-284-7116. You may also contact DISH with an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your continuing patience and understanding....the support we've received from thousands of our loyal viewers is greatly appreciated
President & COO
Citadel Communications Company
3903 Westown Parkway
West Des Moines, IA 50266
Phone: 515-457-9645 ext. 127
This is a further update for those viewers who subscribe to the DISH Network and are no longer receiving Channel 8 KLKN-TV/DT. We would like to provide you with some additional background on this matter. First and foremost, we truly regret that our negotiations with the DISH Network have come to an impasse. In fact, this is the first time in our station's history that a satellite or cable provider has taken our signal down from their system. Our company has successfully -- and fairly -- negotiated hundreds of carriage agreements in the past several years with other satellite and cable operators.
Our most recent carriage agreement with DISH expired at midnight on July 31. We submitted a proposed new agreement to them on May 23, and we didn't get any substantive response until the week of July 21. Our discussions with them over the ensuing 10 days were most disappointing and less than productive. And the tactics they have employed in more recent days such as bombarding our viewers with misleading information and listing the names/phone numbers of some of our advertisers are off the mark... and accomplish absolutely nothing that will get us any closer to a deal.
For example, DISH Network is telling their subscribers that we are asking for (or, in their words, "demanding") a huge increase in our carriage fees. In fact, our proposal does provide for an increase that reflects the going market rate for broadcast network affiliates. Moreover, the fees we have asked for are a fraction of what DISH pays for other program services such as ESPN, TNT, Fox News, USA and Nickelodeon -- all of which have considerably less viewership than Channel 8. What has been most disconcerting to us is DISH's suggestion that we don't care about our viewers. We do care... and we can point to countless examples of public and community service that Channel 8 provides year-round that demonstrate just how much we value and respect our viewers in a way that DISH simply and clearly does not.
One other point: as a DISH customer you are paying a monthly fee for the local stations. You might consider asking them to waive this fee, or at least issue a pro-rated credit, until such time that Channel 8's signal is restored. And please remember that Channel 8 is available over-the-air, or by cable, or by DirecTV in the meantime.
We sincerely regret that our loyal viewers have been thrust in to the middle of this unfortunate and unnecessary business dispute....and pledge to you that we will continue to work diligently to reach an agreement with DISH that is fair and equitable to both parties. We would ask that you consider placing a call to Eric Sahl at DISH Network (ph 303-723-1515) and encourage him to make the same pledge. We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of our negotiations
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