By Dennis Seid | NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – After a New Year’s Day dust-up with DISH Network that took it off the air temporarily, WTVA is back on the air.
Starting around 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, subscribers to the satellite provider began seeing messages that the station would go off the air because of a disagreement between them and DISH.
WTVA Station Manager Phil Sullivan said the dispute boiled down to DISH Network telling them how to conduct business, as well as money.
“We were asking them to pay a minuscule 2 cents a day per subscriber,” Sullivan said. “That doesn’t add up to a lot of money, particularly when they’re paying non-broadcast signals much more than that. But the biggest thing was that they were trying to dictate what our agreements should be like with other companies . … they were trying to tell us how to do our business, and that’s not right.”
Satellite companies like DISH and DirecTV, as well as cable companies, charge subscribers for the channels they get. Television networks – NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, etc. – charge their affiliates, like the Tupelo station, to carry their feeds.
So Sullivan said the stations had no choice but to pass along the fee to cover the added costs.
Talks with DISH began in September, but they broke down over the weekend. Sullivan said DISH told him Saturday at 5 p.m that it would “take down your signal.” The station started message scrawls to inform customers.
Sullivan said DISH called back Sunday morning to restart talks, and they were able to reach an agreement to get the station back on the air. The agreement lasts through Jan. 15, 2016.
In an email to viewers, Sullivan said, “WTVA has been dedicated to providing the best local news, weather and sports coverage to the Tupelo-Columbus market for 55 years. Our viewers’ calls to Dish Network were integral to their agreement to reinstate our channel in their line up. We want to thank all our viewers for supporting us.”
On Monday, Sullivan said was happy to get the station back on air, but declined to give specifics of the agreement.
“I will say that it was a business strategy by DISH, and we had to insist that we protect our customers the best that we could,” he said. “It was nothing personal, but it was their business strategy. … it’s part of broadcasting and things like this happen unfortunately.”