Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

{UPDATE} DISH Network and Fisher Communications have ended their contract dispute that kept Fisher stations including KOMO and KIMA off the satellite service since December. Dish resumed broadcasts of Fisher stations at 10:25 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, 2009.Read more.

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The Washington Attorney General’s Office has received complaints from DISH Network customers who are no longer able to receive certain network TV stations in Washington. Stations no longer available to DISH customers are: KOMO and KUNS in Seattle; KIMA and KUNW in Yakima; KATU in Portland, Ore; KVAL in Eugene, Ore., KBCI in Boise, Idaho; KIDK in Idaho Falls, and KBAK and KBFX in Bakersfield, Calif. DISH Network stopped providing their signals as part of a dispute with Seattle-based Fisher Communications after the companies were unable to come to terms on a new contract.

Fisher wants more money. The company issued a news release on the issue that includes the following statement:

"Despite Fisher's good-faith efforts to negotiate a new agreement, we were unable to reach acceptable terms to ensure that DISH provides us fair compensation for the value they receive from broadcasting our stations, which have leading positions in their markets and consistently deliver highly viewed news and programming," said Rob Dunlop, Fisher's senior vice president of operations. "Our signal remains available over the public airwaves and through other service providers such as cable or DIRECTV. We regret any inconvenience DISH Network viewers may experience as they look for other options in order to watch our stations."

Separately, Fisher announced that it has filed a $1 million breach of contract lawsuit over DISH's failure to comply with the terms of the prior carriage agreement. The lawsuit was filed Dec. 18 in federal district court in Oregon. Fisher claims that DISH, based in Englewood, Colo., violated the terms of the carriage agreement when it failed to retransmit Portland station KUNP's signal from July 2006, when Fisher acquired the station, until April 30, 2008.

To understand why this is happening, it’s helpful to understand the differences between types of channels and how they make revenue.

This is a contract issue between the two companies. However, upset consumers in Washington State may file a complaint online with our office. (Our Consumer Resource Center phone lines are closed today, Dec. 22, due to the winter storms. The center can normally  be reached at 1-800-551-4636 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays.)

Because the Attorney General’s Office wants consumers to seek to resolve their disputes directly with businesses, consumers who file complaints with our office should also write letters to both Fisher and DISH, indicating their displeasure at the companies’ inability to resolve their contract issues:

DISH Network
9601 S. Meridian Blvd.
Englewood, CO 80112

Fisher Communications
100 4th Ave N
Suite 510
Seattle, WA 98109

State attorneys general have stepped in when cable or satellite companies use deceptive marketing or fail to disclose all fees or material terms, such as informing customers of when pricing or programming changes might occur. But barring allegations of violations of the Consumer Protection Act, the Washington Attorney General’s Office doesn’t have the authority to take enforcement action when companies change their programming. The Federal Communications Commission is generally not authorized to participate in discussions between television stations and cable systems regarding retransmission consent agreements. Furthermore, the FCC cannot tell a cable operator which stations or program services to delete in order to comply with the must-carry requirement.

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