Dish pulls the plug on 4 Standard Media stations in carriage dispute

Dish Network finds itself at the heels of another carriage dispute, with Nashville-based broadcaster Standard Media pulling four stations from Dish’s satellite service.

The channel blackout went into effect last Friday at 7 p.m. ET, when Dish and Standard Media’s current distribution agreement expired. Standard Media said it urged Dish to allow more time to negotiate, but the satellite provider insisted Standard Media “be paid at levels far below its current rate despite increased programming costs at broadcast stations.”

The four affected stations are located in Paducah, Kentucky (KBSI), Lincoln, Nebraska (KLKN), Harrisburg, Illinois (WDKA) and New Bedford, Massachusetts (WLNE).

Over the past year, Standard Media and Dish extended negotiations multiple times to prevent service disruption for Dish customers, per a statement from Standard Media. The broadcaster emphasized the decision to drop the stations is “Dish’s choice, and not what we prefer.”

“While Dish is willing to resell our valuable content that drives their viewership, they do not want to pay for it. Being paid fairly for our content allows us to employ local journalists and produce hours of news daily that our communities rely on,” stated a Standard Media spokesperson.

Standard Media went on to say as a smaller broadcaster, it can’t effectively push back against a larger, national company and that the carriage dispute “denies important resources to our local stations.”

“Standard Media has successfully negotiated agreements with all other distributors with no disruption to our viewers, but Dish is attempting to strong-arm our stations into a contract that will harm local journalism and service to our communities,” the spokesperson added.

Fierce Video reached out to Dish for further comment and will update with any additional information.

Dish’s Standard Media channel blackout comes just over a month after a carriage spat with Disney, resulting in millions of Dish TV and Sling TV subscribers losing access to Disney-owned channels like ESPN and ABC. The satellite provider claimed Disney was trying to extract “nearly a billion dollars more” for those networks.

Following that blackout, Dish and Disney were able to reach a temporary agreement to restore service for Dish customers, though they have yet to finalize a new agreement.

Dish is also facing a civil lawsuit from the Pac-12 Network, which claimed Dish withheld programming payments during the Covid-19 pandemic.

As for Standard Media, it’s an affiliate of private equity firm Standard General, which is in the process of scooping up broadcaster Tegna for $8.6 billion. The acquisition was approved by Tegna shareholders in May but still awaits regulatory approval.

If the deal goes through, Standard Media CEO Deborah McDermott will take the helm as Tegna CEO. Speaking with Fierce Video in August, McDermott said Standard General aims to “really grow Tegna’s presence as a leading local broadcast television company.” As of now, Tegna owns 64 TV stations in 51 U.S. markets.