Dish, Gannett Reach New Retrans Deal to Avoid Blackout

8:00 AM PST 10/08/2012 by Eriq Gardner

The two companies resolve a standoff over an increase in fees and a new ad-skipping DVR.

Dish Network has confirmed that it has reached a new long-term re-transmission agreement with Gannett, avoiding a blackout of ABC, CBS and NBC affiliated stations in 19 cities.

The new deal comes just at the expiration of an old agreement that covered 22 Gannett stations in markets including Denver, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and Phoenix.

As the deadline drew near, both sides fussed over Dish's AutoHop, the ad-skipping DVR service rolled out last March that has upset the broadcasters. A fight over whether AutoHop constitutes copyright infringement is pending before judges in New York and California. The dispute spilled over into carriage negotiations between Dish and Gannett, one of the largest owners of network-affiliated stations in the country.

STORY: Judge Delays Jury Selection in AMC Networks-Dish Trial

During the last days before the agreement was reached, Dish had said that it was willing to pay a 200 percent increase on fees for Gannett stations, but that Gannett demanded either a disabling of AutoHop or a 300 percent increase in fees. Dish had characterized Gannett's demands as "massive penalties" for AutoHop, calling it an insult to its consumers.

Gannett said it was only seeking a "fair, market-based deal" but publicly denied that it had demanded a disabling of AutoHop. Nevertheless, Gannett executives have spoken about the potential of the new service costing advertising revenue.

The terms of the new agreement aren't immediately known. Some Gannett stations have posted a notice of settlement on their own websites.

The dispute over AutoHop continues in court. A California judge is set to soon rule on Fox's motion for a preliminary injunction.

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner

comments powered by Disqus