NEW BLOOMFIELD — About 40,000 Columbia and Jefferson City area customers of satellite television provider DISH Network won’t be able to view KRCG/Channel 13’s news broadcasts or other CBS programming after midnight Wednesday.
KRCG/Channel 13 has been in talks with DISH for several months to increase compensation for the satellite company’s use of the local broadcast signal, but KRCG wanted more than DISH offered. KRCG revoked its permission for the satellite provider to broadcast their programming.
DirecTV and cable customers, as well as those who use an over-the-air antenna, will still be able to view the channel. DISH sucbscribers will be able to access KRCG via an over-the-air antenna as well. However, it’s possible that the channel will lose viewers — and advertising revenue — in the short term, said Leo Henning, vice president of Barrington Broadcasting Group LLC, which owns KRCG.
“It’s an unfortunate situation, but we believe that this TV station and CBS, particularly the local aspects of this TV station, have value to DISH subscribers, and we’d like to make it a little more fair,” Henning said. “It is a very important issue for the future economic health of local television stations.”
DISH anticipates losing some subscribers, too.
"The longer it (the negotiation process) takes, the more people will miss their programming, and the more likely they are to seek an alternative," said DISH programming director Michael McKenna.
However, competing networks might benefit in more immediate ways.
“Any time you remove a television station from more than 40,000 subscribers or households, those viewers are going to go somewhere,” said Randy Wright, vice president and general manager of KMIZ/Channel 17. “We feel like it could potentially bring us some additional viewership to our four stations.”
The satellite provider pays KRCG for the use of its signal, then charges its customers $4.99 every month for the access to local channels. According to a federal law passed in 1992, the television station has the right to negotiate with DISH regarding its compensation. Henning said repeatedly that negotiations have stalled, but McKenna said they will continue.
"We're committed to taking as much time as necessary to get the channel back up," he said.
What DISH pays KRCG is “a fraction of what they’re charging their customers,” Henning said. “Our request is a larger small fraction.”
But McKenna said Barrington is asking for "other things that are tied to their other stations, so really the subscribers in Columbia-Jefferson City are being subject to Barrington's desire to leverage them over their entire broadcast base."
The decision will affect many DISH subscribers because it means DISH can't offer local programming in high definition, even though it has built the local infrastructure for it.
"We have already made a committment to deliver HD local programming, and we cannot do that," McKenna said. "If we had a deal with Barrington, with KRCG, we would begin delivering HD signals almost immediately."