Dish drops 30 Mission, White Knight Broadcasting stations over retrans fees

Dish Network removed over two dozen Mission Broadcasting and White Knight Broadcasting stations from its satellite lineup on Friday, as the parties find themselves embroiled in a retrans dispute.

Over 30 Mission stations have been blacked out across Dish’s 28-market footprint, while two White Knight stations have been dropped. These stations air various local programming from ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC.

Per a statement from Dish TV Group President Brian Neylon, both Mission and White Knight rejected a contract extension with Dish and were demanding “unreasonable” programming fees, given that Mission and White Knight’s viewership on Dish has “significantly declined” over the past three years.

"Broadcasters like Mission and White Knight often block customer access as they negotiate for higher rates," stated Neylon. "We will continue to fight on behalf of Dish customers to keep prices as low as possible. We hope Mission and White Knight will continue to negotiate with us in good faith so we can minimize the disruption to our customers."

In a message to Dish subscribers, Mission stated it presented Dish with a “fair value compensation” offer. But the broadcaster added Dish customers stand to lose access to all of Mission’s local news, entertainment and sports programming.

“Despite our tireless efforts, Dish has refused our fair offer and is making negotiations very difficult,” said Mission. “Our offer is fair. And now they [Dish] hold you the subscriber hostage.”

All of Mission and White Knight’s stations are managed by Nexstar Media Group via shared services and local marketing agreements. Nexstar was also involved in a dispute with Comcast last month over Mission-owned WPIX, one of the stations Dish blacked out. Comcast and Nexstar were able to resolve the matter before year-end, restoring WPIX for Xfinity pay TV customers in the New York metro area.

For Nexstar’s part, the company issued a statement to NextTV saying it has “no role in the negotiations between Dish and either of these companies.”

Dish’s latest retrans spat comes a couple of months after the satellite provider blacked out stations from Cox Media Group and Standard Media, respectively. Prior to that, Dish faced a brief carriage dispute with Disney. Mission and White Knight have been involved in a long-term dispute with DirecTV since October – affecting 25 Mission stations and two White Knight stations.