Tegna calls Dish’s bad faith complaint ‘utterly baseless’

Dish Network has filed a bad faith complaint with the FCC against Tegna as the two companies remain at loggerheads over a new carriage agreement.

Dish is accusing Tegna of turning its back on its public interest obligation as a broadcaster after a dispute over retransmission fees earlier this month lead to a TV channel blackout affecting nearly 3 million Dish TV customers in 53 markets.

“Tegna’s demands were both unreasonable and inconsistent. This behavior negatively impacts Dish subscribers, and we expect Tegna’s bad behavior to only get worse as the programmer looks to sell its stations to the highest bidder. As a result, we have filed a formal complaint with the FCC to address Tegna’s blatant disregard of the Commission’s rules,” said Andy LeCuyer, Dish’s senior vice president of programming, in a statement.

Dish’s complaint alleges that Tegna demanded that Dish pay for all subscribers in local markets regardless if they buy local programming and for viewers who are no longer subscribers of Dish. The satellite provider claimed Tegna’s demands would have totaled nearly $1 billion in fees.

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Tegna fired back, calling Dish’s complaint “utterly baseless and without merit.”

“Tegna welcomes a chance for the FCC to review Dish’s conduct over the course of this negotiation. Perhaps a close examination of Dish’s conduct will cause them to come to the table to negotiate free from their consistently unproductive tactics and public misrepresentations,” the company said in a statement. “The real issue at hand is the need for Dish to stop short-changing their customers by serially dropping valued stations and instead reach fair, market-based deals with programmers like Tegna.”

Tegna said that it submitted a proposal to Dish months ago and has updated it multiple times, including a reduction in rates, but claimed that Dish has refused to counter and that it has not proposed rates in more than three weeks.

“Rather than engage in transparent PR stunts, Dish should return to the negotiating table in a serious fashion and get a deal done before their subscribers are forced to endure yet another week without their favorite shows, valued local news, as well as marquee college football and NFL matchups,” the company said.