Dish Network customers may miss Red Sox playoff games due to contract dispute

Posted Oct. 10, 2013, at 9:39 a.m.
Last modified Oct. 10, 2013, at 6:43 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Local Dish Network customers hoping to see the Boston Red Sox compete for a World Series title may be out of luck.

Bangor stations WVII (ABC 7) and WFVX (FOX 22), the latter of which is airing the American League Championship Series and World Series, will no longer be seen on the Dish Network effective Oct. 16, the stations announced Thursday.

The stations’ contract with Dish expires Oct. 15, according to station manager and vice president Mike Palmer, and despite what Palmer called prolonged negotiations, Dish is unwilling to carry the stations past the end of its current contract.

Palmer said the dispute will not affect DIRECT-TV or Time Warner Cable customers. The station manager added he’s hoping a deal can be negotiated prior to Wednesday.

“We’re hopeful we’re going to get a deal done but it’s like one hand clapping in the wind,” he said. “It may go down to the wire. It may even go over the wire. But it will get done. It’s not forever. I’m working very hard on this. There is nothing more important to me.”

He noted that this is a “normal part of business these days. It happens to stations all over the country.”

But Palmer noted that his stations have never been in a retransmission consent dispute such as this one with Dish Network.

“It doesn’t make my life any easier, but they’ve got to talk to us,” Palmer said. “I’m not sure it’s a priority at Dish Network to get this deal done. They have a long track record of taking local stations off their network.

“I hope we’re not their next target,” he added.

All the station manager is hoping for is the two sides to come to terms for the sake of local viewers.

“We are simply seeking a fair deal, which adequately values the award-winning news, sports, entertainment and weather programming that is paramount to our local viewers,” said Palmer. “It is unfortunate that Dish Network does not value our highly rated stations.”

He said the deal is closer to being finalized than it was initially but he admitted he is “nervous” about the lack of further progress.

“That’s why I’m talking about this today,” said Palmer.

Palmer noted that the fact that Dish customers won’t potentially be able to watch the Red Sox isn’t a significant hurdle.

“People are going to find a way to watch the game,” he said. “I wouldn’t let that get in my way.”

He explained that the Dish Network pays them for the right to put their stations on its package.

“They want to resell the product to the consumers but we need our cut,” said Palmer.

The first three games of the Boston Red Sox’s American League Championship best-of-seven series aren’t in jeopardy on Dish but the fourth game will be the first one that will be jeopardized if the deal isn’t consummated, he said.

Palmer said 20 percent of the households covering a six-county area watch WVII (ABC 7) and WFVX (Fox 22) on the Dish Network.

The networks will begin televising selected University of Maine hockey, football and basketball games on Oct. 19 when the Black Bear football team, ranked 14th in the country in the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision), will host William and Mary (Va.) for Homecoming.

BDN sportswriter Larry Mahoney contributed to this report.

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