5/31/18: An open letter from SagamoreHill Broadcasting CEO Louis Wall regarding the negotiations with DISH Network.
If you are a DISH customer, you realize that DISH Network has blacked out the signal of FOX 14.
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 FOX 14 programming and local news provided by FOX 14 NEWS AT 9 journalists in the 4-State 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 FOX 14.
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?
FOX 14 wants to be back on DISH Network and available to our loyal viewers who utilize their satellite services to see FOX 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 inconvenienced 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 FOX 14 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 FOX 14 programming and local newscasts from FOX 14 NEWS at 9.
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 FOX 14.
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:
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Update 5/22/2018; 9:27 AM: FOX 14 is doing everything possible to reach a fair resolution with Dish Network to avoid any further disruption in service. FOX 14 has reached agreement with all other video providers. Call Dish Network at 1-800-333-3474 to let your voice be heard. Meanwhile, FOX 14 can still be viewed for free using an over-the-air antenna or other video providers. Thank you for being a FOX 14 viewer, we regret any inconvenience for you.
FAQ about FOX 14 & DISH Network Negotiations
Q. What’s going on and what is this negotiation about?
The FOX 14 agreement with DISH Network expired at 6:00 p.m. Monday, May 21, 2018. To avoid a disruption in your DISH service, we have offered to extend our agreement if they would negotiate some legal language but they refused. Unfortunately, customers of DISH Network have lost access to FOX 14 News at 9 as well as FOX sports and programs such as NFL Football, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, The Simpsons, Empire, The Resident, Lethal Weapon and many more of your favorite programs.
Both FOX 14 and DISH have extensive data about the actual viewership of FOX 14 and all the other channels. There is no dispute that FOX 14 is one of the most-viewed channels. In fact, local broadcasters have 40 percent of all local viewing yet receive a small portion of the fees DISH charges you.
We are simply asking for a fair negotiation consistent with the agreements we have with all other cable and satellite systems. This helps us offset significant costs charged to us by Fox for its programs and the most important operation expense of all the responsibility of covering the local news, weather, sports, emergency and community service information.
Q. How will this negotiation impact my monthly bill with DISH?
This is completely up to DISH, which has built a very profitable business by reselling programming provided by local stations and cable companies.
DISH DOES NOT have to pass along any increase it may agree to with FOX 14
Whatever increase DISH and FOX 14 might agree to, to characterize FOX 14 as being greedy or holding viewers hostage is simply not true. DISH is a publicly traded $14 billion company
It is entirely up to DISH what, if any, increase they pass through to you.
Q. Is FOX 14 making unreasonable demands of DISH?
No. What we are asking is fair. FOX 14 has negotiated dozens of agreements with other cable and satellite providers--DISH has negotiated THOUSANDS of agreements. Both parties know what's fair. SagamoreHill, the owner of FOX 14, has successfully negotiated over 40 agreements in the last 6 months, all without interruption with service to viewers. These include Comcast, Charter, DirecTV, Suddenlink, Grande, and Cable One just to name a few.
FOX 14 has agreements with all other operators in the market and our request for compensation from DISH is in the same range as all the other agreements we have negotiated. What we are asking for is far below the rates DISH pays to national cable channels which are far less popular than FOX 14, have far fewer viewers, and provide no local news or community service.
We are willing to make a very fair deal with DISH, similar to agreements we have with its competitors.
We sincerely hope it doesn’t come to this but if you value FOX 14 programming, you may have to switch providers to continue watching us. If you remain a DISH customer, please have patience. We assure you we will continue to negotiate in good faith with the goal of resolving this issue as soon as possible.
Q. What are my other options for getting FOX 14 programming?
All cable and satellite providers other than DISH will continue to carry FOX 14 without interruption. You may also use an antenna to receive our digital, high-definition signal over the air free of charge. If you’re interested in switching to another provider, here is a list of contact
numbers and online locations:
CABLE ONE: 417-624-3640 or Cableone.net
COX: (620) 308-6302 or Cox.com
DirecTV: 1-888-777-2454 or DirecTV.com
How can FOX 14 charge DISH for its programming when it is free to over-the-air viewers?
Any individual can watch our programming for FREE with the use of an antenna but we don't allow anyone to carry our programming and resell it to the public without fair compensation.
This right to negotiate for fair compensation was authorized by Congress in 1992. The 1992 Cable Act, also known as the retransmission consent process, was in large part designed to ensure that local TV stations would be able to enhance their local news and community service efforts. Our local news operation is by far the largest single expense of the television station, as it should be. We provide many hours of local news each week. Again, our agreements with operators such as DISH supports our ability to provide local news and other programming.
Q. What will we be missing if FOX 14 is not available on DISH?
We produce local news each week covering the issues important to the 4-State area and the surrounding communities. In addition, we broadcast Fox award-winning and highly-rated news, sports and entertainment programming including NFL football, Major League Baseball, College Football and NASCAR just to name a few.
Q. Won’t DISH just add another Fox affiliate?
In short, they can’t. FOX 14 is the local affiliate for the 4-State area and federal law prevents them from doing so.
Q. Why wouldn't the local TV station grant an extension of the negotiation period to the operator so its programming continues to be seen?
We have offered an extension. Unfortunately, DISH has not agreed to negotiate some of the language of the contract.
We are keenly aware that when DISH removes us from their system, viewers are caught in the middle of a business dispute. We pledge to you that we will do everything to resolve this dispute so that doesn’t happen.
Q. Why are two giant companies fighting and putting subscribers in the middle of their negotiation?
FOX 14 is no giant. Dish is a national company with $14.6 Billion in annual revenues and we're a small company with revenues far less than one percent of Dish. We employ local people who are invested in your community and who serve our 4-State area in a variety of ways.
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Update: 6:34 PM (5/21/2018) A message to DISH Network customers: FOX 14’s current agreement with DISH Network has expired. Unfortunately, FOX 14 can no longer be watched on its system. We would like to be on the system. However, DISH has refused to reach an agreement. We will continue to pursue an agreement. But so far, our efforts have not been successful. FOX 14 is committed to reaching a fair agreement with DISH Network, as we have with every other cable and satellite provider. This affects customers of DISH Network only. You will still be able to watch FOX 14 via an antenna and through other providers. We will continue to keep you updated.
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1:52 PM 5/21/2018: A message to DISH Network customers: FOX 14’s current agreement with DISH Network ends today at 6:00PM. Unfortunately, at that time, DISH Network may choose to pull FOX 14 off its satellite system. We would like to remain on the system. However, DISH has refused to reach an agreement. We will continue to pursue an agreement. But so far, our efforts have not been successful. FOX 14 is committed to reaching a fair agreement with DISH, as we have with every other provider. This affects customers of DISH Network only. You will still be able to watch FOX 14 via an antenna and through other providers. We will continue to keep you updated.
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