DISH Network Blackout of Columbus, Georgia NBC Affiliate Continues
Station Owner Issues Open Letter To Explain The Situation
The following open letter from SagamoreHill Broadcasting CEO Louis Wall was provided to WTLZ First News for distribution:
If you are a DISH customer, you realize that DISH Network has blacked out the signal of WLTZ-TV NBC 38.
We appreciate your viewership and deeply regret this inconvenience.
DISH is distributing false information about what is actually happening with their decision to block customers from seeing NBC programming and local news provided by WLTZ-TV First News journalists in the Columbus, Georgia and Auburn/Opelika, Alabama viewing area.
You are entitled to know more than just DISH’s one-sided spin of the story.
I write this open letter to you to set the record straight on what got us to this point.
Here are the facts.
DISH is broadcasting inaccurate and misleading information about the nature of negotiations between their company and SagamoreHill Broadcasting, the owner of WLTZ-TV.
You’ve seen the message DISH is force feeding you on your television screen.
Read it carefully.
DISH would like you to believe that they’ve blocked our signal to protect you from higher prices.
That’s simply not true.
In fact, it’s so ridiculous, it makes me shake my head and chuckle.
DISH Network, a company which makes $14.6 billion annually, a company which expects you to pay them every month whether or not a few rain drops make your favorite show unwatchable, a company which expects you to pay them whether or not they block your favorite programs; this is the giant corporation which alleges that our small company is demanding outrageous fees.
That is a false statement.
The fact is, SagamoreHill Broadcasting has had no meaningful discussions with DISH Network about rates.
So far, our discussions have actually all centered around issues of legal language and stipulations in the proposed agreement.
As talks continued, DISH adopted a “take it or leave it” attitude and has refused to negotiate in good faith, basic items which have been part and parcel to our previous agreements, and which we already have in place with other video providers.
Our company may be small. But, we will not be bullied by DISH Network. We cannot, with a good conscience, go along with DISH’s brutish demands.
Frankly, we’re bemused as to why DISH just doesn’t get it.
Agreements come up for renewal every three years with all of our cable and satellite partners. That’s normal.
In the past six months, we have amicably worked out agreements with more than 40 cable and satellite providers. That’s normal.
No other cable or satellite provider has blocked our signal from their customers while those negotiations were successfully completed. That’s normal.
In fact, no cable or satellite provider has blacked out our signal in more than nine years. That’s normal.
You read that correctly, not one blackout, until DISH Network decided to employ what is considered a “nuclear” tactic and block our signal from you. That is NOT normal.
DISH’s blackout decision is ridiculously heavy-handed and unfair to you, it’s customers.
Why put you in the middle of it?
WLTZ-TV NBC 38 wants to be back on DISH Network and available to our loyal viewers who utilize their satellite services to see NBC programming, local severe weather coverage, and local newscasts.
Remember, as I mentioned previously, in the past six months, more than 40 satellite and cable providers have gone through the normal, regular process of renewing their retransmission agreements with SagamoreHill Broadcasting.
Every one of those discussions were successful.
Every one of those discussions resulted in zero viewers being inconvenience by not being able to see the programming they want to see.
So, what’s the difference between then and now?
DISH Network is the only difference between then and now.
DISH Network is the only satellite provider that has not worked with us.
Out of forty-plus systems, DISH is the only system with which we have not been able to reach an agreement.
Please take a moment to read the list below of the many systems which have worked with us without a hitch.
No doubt, people you know; they could be family members, friends, or co-workers are watching WLTZ-TV NBC 38 programming, right now, on one of those cable or satellite providers.
Please ask yourself why DISH Network is THE ONLY SYSTEM blocking paying customers from watching NBC programming and local newscasts from WLTZ-TV First News.
You should ask DISH Network the same question.
You can call them at 1-800-333-3474 to do that.
Pay close attention to the double-speak the customer service representative will likely use when they respond to your questions. They are reading from a script.
One other thing. If you can actually get a real human being on the phone who will speak to you candidly about the situation, please do me a favor.
Tell DISH to stop this silliness and get back to the negotiating table.
Tell DISH that, as I’ve said before, I am eager to find common ground and wrap this up so you can once again watch your favorite programs.
Since DISH is not listening to me, maybe they’ll listen to you.
Again, thank you very much for watching WLTZ-TV NBC 38.
Despite this current and very frustrating stance by DISH Network, I will continue to work hard to resolve this situation as soon as possible.
SagamoreHill Broadcasting, LLC
P.S. As promised, here’s that list of companies with which we have successfully reached agreements:
Cable South Media 3
CableTV of East A.
Citizens Comm / Frontier
Citizens Tel Coop
City of Auburn
Clear Lake Indep / Northland
Communications 1 Network
Farmers / Omnitel
Grande Comm Net
Hiawatha Broadband Comm
La Harpe Comm
Middle Point Home Telephone
SCI Broadband / Savage