Local ABC affiliates could be dropped from Dish Network when contract ends

Dish Network subscribers in parts of Oregon may soon find local ABC television affiliates, including KDRV-TV in Medford, dropped from their viewing options.

Eugene-based Chambers Communications Corp., parent company of KDRV-TV, KDKF-TV in Klamath Falls, KEZI-TV in Eugene and KOHD-TV in Bend, said late Thursday its current contract with Dish Network expires at midnight Wednesday, Dec. 15.

Chambers said it has attempted to reach a new long-term agreement with Englewood, Colo.-based Dish Network for its stations' digital signals. Chambers said "a number of proposals" have been rejected by the satellite programing provider.

"As a result, Chambers Communications expects Dish Network to discontinue carriage of its television stations when the contract expires," the company said in a statement.

Chambers noted its local news, weather and emergency information as well as networking entertainment and sports programming will be dropped.

Chambers Communications said it has reached agreements with every other major cable, satellite and telecommunications company in its operating markets.

Chambers indicated its issue was "the fair market value" of its stations' programming.

"Most cable and satellite providers across the country understand that supporting local television stations is critical to their own success," Chambers' President and Chief Operating Officer Dana Siebert said in a statement. "Fairly compensating stations for our content allows us to provide additional high quality local programs to all of our television viewers."

He said negotiations continue.

(Update: 12:35 p.m.) Chambers Communications spokesman Bryan Johnson said the present rate can't be disclosed by confidentiality agreements.

“Negotiations are still underway, so we also can't provide specific figures for the amount we are requesting,” Johnson said. “What we can tell you is the increase we are seeking is less than a penny a day per subscriber.”

That amount is far less, he said, than what Dish pays for premium networks such as ESPN.

“DISH Network is working diligently to negotiate a fair retransmission consent agreement,” Dave Shull, senior vice president of programming for Dish Network, said in a statement Friday. “Unfortunately, Chambers Communications is demanding a nearly 500 percent rate increase and unreasonable contract terms for continued carriage of these stations."

He said the company's offer to Chambers Communications is fair and consistent with the market rates negotiated with more than 1,000 other local TV stations in recent years.

“Chambers Communications has since told us they refuse to negotiate in good faith any further unless we agree to their terms and fees — which are not only egregious and unfair, but also would result in unreasonable rate increases for our customers.”

— Greg Stiles

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