The Free Press, Mankato, MN

October 11, 2013

Local TV stations dropped from DISH

Contract dispute not headed for solution

By Amanda Dyslin adyslin@mankatofreepress.com
The Mankato Free Press

---- — MANKATO — KEYC News 12 and its sister station Fox 12 Mankato were dropped this week from DISH Network.

Because of a contract dispute that KEYC General Manager Marvin Rhodes deems irreparable for the time being, about 3,400 DISH customers in the Mankato area will be without the channels.

Rhodes said the dispute isn’t about money. DISH and United Communications Corp., which owns the local stations, came to agreeable financial contract terms July 31, Rhodes said.

But when the multi-paged formal contract was provided to KEYC, “the fine print” indicated KEYC was required to give DISH digital rights to network programming.

KEYC doesn’t own the rights to CBS and Fox content, and KEYC’s contracts with the networks do not allow the rights to be provided to a third party, such as DISH.

“(The contract) required us to give them digital rights to things we don’t have the rights to give away; they are demanding these rights,” Rhodes said.

A DISH Network representative couldn’t be reached Thursday.

The local stations have remained on the DISH lineup since July 31 due to a temporary contract extension while negotiations took place. Rhodes said further conversations with DISH representatives have not resulted in compromise. And he doesn’t foresee movement in the near future.

“We’re kind of caught in the middle — sign with DISH or violate contracts with your networks and maybe you can lose your networks, so you’re going to lose all the way around,” Rhodes said. “There wasn’t any choice, basically.”

DISH dropped the local stations on Wednesday. Rhodes said DISH is the area’s smallest carrier of KEYC News 12 and Fox 12. He said the majority of subscribers have cable.

But the station is encouraging DISH subscribers to call DISH customer service with questions and complaints about the dropped channels. The number is 1-855-318-0572.

Among other programming, KEYC News 12 and Fox 12 air local news broadcasts and national CBS and Fox programming, which includes the Minnesota Vikings games.

DISH has packages that offer different channels in different areas. Customers should contact DISH to find out whether they have access to Twin Cities-based stations that carry the Vikings games and other content.