By Trent Moore
The Cullman Times
With a tropical storm set to hit the Gulf Coast, Dish Network and Media General have reached a temporary truce to restore Birmingham-based station WVTM NBC 13 for local subscribers this weekend.
The station will remain available until midnight Sunday night, at which time the blackout will resume, as the two companies continue to battle over retransmission fees.
Only four of the 17 affected stations — located in Birmingham, Mobile, Mississippi and Florida — will be made exempt. The remaining stations embroiled in the dispute will remain blacked out.
Dish requested temporary permission Friday from Media General to restore the stations as Tropical Storm Karen approaches the coast, and Media General agreed.
“We are pleased Media General broke its silence and agreed with our request to serve viewers,” DISH executive vice president Dave Shull said in a statement. “While this permission is limited to four markets for two days, this is a productive outcome for viewers who rely on their local news the most.”
Here is the full text of Dish’s message to Media General:
“Despite Media General’s silence since Monday, September 30, we think it is important during Tropical Storm Karen that we put your viewers first, especially those in the projected path of the storm. We are hopeful that you are anxious to fulfill your public service obligations, as the communities we both serve face such challenges. We wanted to reach out again, to let you know that we are willing to put our differences aside and put the viewers first. As you know, we are ready to restore service in time for viewers to receive vital storm information.”
This is the second time this year local Dish customers have had to grapple with station blackouts, as content providers and cable/satellite services tussle over new contracts and fees every few months.
‰ Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.