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August 8, 2013

Dish responds to Raycom channel blackout

Dispute blocking Fox 6, NBC 48 for Cullman subscribers

With local channels in the Cullman area still dark due to a rate dispute, Dish Network has issued a new statement claiming the company will sign a new deal and end the blackout if Raycom Media agrees to “match the words in the contract with its message to viewers.”

Local affiliates WBRC Fox 6 in Birmingham, WDFX Fox 36 in Dothan, WSFA NBC 12 in Montgomery and WAFF 48 NBC in Huntsville have all shut down service to Dish customers while the dispute continues. Across the nation, the dispute has blocked Raycom stations in 36 markets and several states.

Feeds to the local channels were shut off on Aug.1, and have remained dead ever since. Officials on both sides say negotiations are ongoing, but blame the other party for the blackout. The shut down stems from negotiations over a new retransmission agreement, as the previous deal expired at the end of July.

Dish director of programming Sruta Vootukuru offered an update asking Raycom to match claims made in media campaigns about the blackout.

“DISH is ready to sign a deal right now if Raycom will match the words in the contract with its message to viewers,” Vootukuru said in a statement. “Raycom has publicly told its viewers that they are willing to give DISH the same deal as other providers. All we're asking is for Raycom to put that on paper and we're ready to sign the deal now.”

A message left at Raycom seeking a response was not returned by deadline of this article.

Though talks seem to be ongoing, there has been no formal indication as to when the blackout might end.

Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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