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DISH removes WTAJ-TV

Both sides blame the other for contract dispute

WTAJ-TV has been removed from DISH Network as the dispute between Nexstar Media Group — owner of WTAJ-TV — and DISH Network continues. Their contract expired at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Both sides are blaming the other.

“WTAJ and DISH have a contract that allows them to carry our programming to you. That contract has expired and DISH has removed WTAJ from your schedule. WTAJ has presented a proposal for fair value compensation based on the importance and value our programming brings to our viewers. Despite our tireless efforts, DISH has refused our fair offer and is making negotiations very difficult,” according to a statement on the WTAJ-TV website.

DISH offered a different viewpoint.

“We made a fair offer to keep Nexstar stations available to our customers, but Nexstar rejected it,” DISH TV group president Brian Neylon said in a statement. “Earlier today (Wednesday), we offered to extend the current contract and hold subscribers harmless while negotiations continue … but Nexstar never responded.”

In all, 164 Nexstar TV stations in 42 states have gone dark on DISH Network platforms.

In 2019, Nexstar became the largest owner of local stations in the U.S. when it acquired Tribune Media.

About 5.4 million DISH customers are being hit by the carriage impasse.

DISH has about 9 million traditional satellite subscribers and another 2.5 million on its internet pay-TV bundle, Sling TV.

Neylon also said Nexstar is “demanding” more than $1 billion to carry fees for stations that are available for free over the air.

“This shocking increase is the largest we have ever seen,” Neylonsaid.

In its statement, Nexstar maintained, “DISH continues to propose rates that are less than fair market value for the broadcast network and local market programming.

“DISH also continues to exclude WGN America from its proposals. Since DISH proposals are not at all in line with the reality of current market rates, Nexstar is left with no choice but to reject any extension of the current agreement,” the company said.

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