Dish dispute leaves many without regular programming

  • By IAN FOLEY
  • Monday, January 5, 2015 11:19pm
  • News

Since January 3, KTBY Fox 4 in Anchorage has not been available on Dish Network due to a contract dispute between Coastal Television, the channel’s operator, and the satellite provider.

Scott Centers, general manager of Coastal Television based in Anchorage, said that Dish Network is responsible for the channel being removed. Centers said that his channel approached Dish Network weeks before the previous contract was set to expire in order to start new negotiations, but Dish Network only responded days before the deadline.

Centers said that there has been plenty of vitriol aimed at his channel over the pulled programming — something he feels is unwarranted.

“People accuse us of being greedy and that’s just not the case,” he said. “Most of the backlash that I get is the viewers asking for both of us to work out a deal.”

Centers said Coastal Television hasn’t had any problems with other providers, save for Dish Network.

“We have been able to negotiate contracts for all providers. Dish is the only one we haven’t.”

Meanwhile, Dish Network has created a website, www.dishstandsforyou.com, to inform people about the trouble the company has had over negotiations with various channels. In some disputes, according to the website, Dish Network has offered to extend current contracts while new deals are negotiated.

The lack of programming has caused repercussions for some businesses around the Kenai Peninsula.

Because KTBY Fox 4 carries some NFL games, many people unable to watch the NFC Wildcard playoff game opted to go to local sports bars that had DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket.

“We had a ton of people here (on Sunday),” said Gerrica Moore, the bar manager at the Backdoor Lounge. “A couple people left because there weren’t enough places to sit.”

Moore said that she saw complaints over the pulled programming all over Facebook. She said that the outage was most likely responsible for the crowds at the Backdoor Lounge.

“The Dish (Network) thing probably had a lot to do with (the bar being busy).”

At Buckets Sports Grill, business was also booming. Owner Fran Jones said that her establishment also couldn’t accommodate all the customers.

“Sunday was a big football day,” Jones said. “We had plenty of people. We had to turn away people because we didn’t have (enough) tables to take care of all our customers.”

Jones said that she wasn’t on the floor to verify that the increase in customers was a result of people not being able to view the football game at home, but based on the numbers, there was an increase in patrons.

Other local businesses have felt the shock waves caused by the contract disputes.

Gary Parker, the owner of Satech Inc., an authorized Dish Network retailer in Nikiski, said he was shocked when he saw that the local Fox channel had been pulled.

“I didn’t think they’d pull (KTBY Fox 4),” Parker said. “A lot of people are pretty unhappy about losing (service).”

Parker said that the current dispute is not good for Dish Network subscribers, but he advises people to not switch providers. Parker said that he anticipates an agreement between KTBY Fox 4 and Dish Network being made soon, because both sides are aware of the pressure on them, especially during the NFL playoffs.

“Any time my customers are not satisfied or are losing channels they pay for, I’m concerned,” Parker said. “I’m very customer oriented. I want (my customers) to get what they pay for.”

The KTBY Fox 4 blackout isn’t the first instance of popular programming being pulled from Dish Network in recent memory. On December 20, 2014, Fox News and Fox Business were made unavailable after Fox and Dish Network failed to reach an agreement during negotiations concerning contract renewal. Similarly, CNN programming was not available on Dish Network for several weeks last year.

Parker said that people weren’t as vocal about the CNN outage as they have been about Fox.

“We live in a Fox News area,” Parker said.

 

Reach Ian Foley at ian.foley@peninsulaclarion.com.

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