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Contract Dispute Yanks Important TV Channel Off Dish in Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

Phillip Dampier October 2, 2017 Consumer News, Dish Network, Public Policy & Gov't No Comments

As Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands enter another week mostly in darkness, a TV station owner is accused of putting its financial well-being ahead of storm victims getting access to the latest news and developments after ordering its One Caribbean TV channel off the lineup of Dish Networks in a contract dispute.

Lilly Broadcasting pulled the station off the satellite service over the weekend in a move slammed by Dish as a cynical ploy.

Lilly has “turn[ed] its back on public interest obligations during [a] humanitarian crisis [and is using a] catastrophe to create ‘deal leverage,’” Dish Network said in a statement. “[Lilly] is demanding from Dish and, by extension, its customers unreasonable rate increases higher than the current Dish rate. Lilly has also refused Dish’s offer to match the rates paid by other pay-TV channels.”

Dish called Lilly’s move an attempt to “further blind the citizens of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands at this time, showing an unbelievable lack of compassion” and added it was a “prime example of why Washington needs to stand up for consumers and end local channel blackouts.”

Exactly how many viewers One Caribbean TV still has in either U.S. territory is unknown. Power is almost universally unavailable and many satellite dishes were turned into flying projectiles in hurricane force winds. But the optics of pulling a station delivering frequent hurricane recovery updates off the lineup at such a critical time was seen as bad publicity and Lilly quickly relented after the office of FCC chairman Ajit Pai got involved.

“Chairman Pai’s office was in touch with both Lilly Broadcasting and Dish yesterday (Oct. 1) and expressed its concern about the impact of this dispute on the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” an FCC spokesman told Multichannel News. ” We are pleased that the parties agreed to restore carriage of One Caribbean Television last night following these phone calls.”

Satellite Business News reported Lilly Broadcasting Chief Operating Officer John Christianson authorized restoring service in the storm areas.

“We have told Dish Network that they can continue to carry One Caribbean Television in Puerto Rico and the [U.S. Virgin Islands], to help those that can still see the networks keep informed as to what is happening in their region.”







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