TV disputes have spread this year

I'm among those Dish users who have lost access to ABC because of the dispute with Chambers Communications. Thank goodness Monday Night Football is now on ESPN. Can you tell me whether there are other subscribers who have lost a major network?

— Ed V., via e-mail

The tug-of-war between content providers — local TV stations in this case — and those who sell programming to cable and satellite subscribers has intensified this year.

There have been at least six blackouts, the most in a decade, according to Bloomberg.

While the fracas between Chambers Communications, which owns television stations in Bend, Eugene, Klamath Falls and Medford, and Dish Network, the second-largest satellite company, has gone on for more than a week, it pales in comparison with other rights-fees disputes that have cost 19 million cable and satellite subscribers access to programming. Dish Network, Cablevision Systems and AT&T viewers in parts of the country missed out on the Academy Awards, NBA and NFL games.

Dish Network and News Corp. allowed a month's worth of programming to go dark on 19 regional sports channels, and it took a last-minute deal between the companies to stave off disruption of local Fox broadcast stations.

TV stations, pinched by shrinking ad dollars, say they need the revenue to bolster their bottom lines and note they are being paid pennies on the dollar for local content compared with payments made to networks like ESPN. But the satellite and cable providers say the poor economy makes it a poor time indeed to raise rates, which are invariably passed on to the viewers.

Stay tuned, Ed, if you can.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to

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