If you’re a Dish Network subscriber, you lost access to KSTU — aka FOX 13 — over the weekend. The station’s owner, Ohio-based E.W. Scripps Company, is in a contract dispute with the satellite TV provider.
So, no, it won’t do you any good to call the folks at KSTU. They’re pawns in a corporate dispute, one of 60 Scripps stations in 22 states that were pulled off Dish.
And it’s the same story we’ve heard umpteen times before in umpteen similar disputes. Scripps says it just wants Dish to pay what its stations are worth; Dish insists that Scripps is trying to gouge it. And they’re both fighting to win the public relations battle as they fight with each other.
As a Dish subscriber, you must be used to this by now. It happens all the time.
The satellite TV company has a long history of disputes with cable networks and TV station owners. Among the blackouts over the years: ViacomCBS (local stations and cable channels MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon and more); Fox (Fox News, FX, National Geographic, regional sports channels and more); MSG Networks; SNY; AMC Networks; Big Ten Network; Turner Networks (including CNN, TCM and Cartoon Network); NBC (regional sports channels); Tribune Media (WGN and local stations); and local station groups including Sinclair, Belo, Hearst, Heritage, Tegna and more, affecting hundreds of stations.
In addition to the standoff with Scripps, Dish is currently involved in a dispute with Apollo Global Management that’s knocked 14 stations in nine states off its lineup.
Oh, by the way, this is the first time Scripps stations have ever been pulled off a cable or satellite provider’s lineup — and the company has been in the TV business since 1947.
How long will this last? Well, HBO has been off Dish since November 2018, and there are no indications the two sides are anywhere close to resolving their dispute. So … who knows?
The one certainty when you subscribe to Dish is that you’re going to lose channels to contract disputes, both temporarily and (apparently) permanently.
As for those of you missing FOX 13, you do have options. You can watch the station over the air and on various streaming platforms.
Scripps is encouraging Dish subscribers to call the satellite TV provider and complain. Which is also standard procedure in this kind of dispute.
Remember when the Pac-12 Network encouraged viewers to call DirecTV and urge that company to carry its channels? That was in 2012. P12N still isn’t on DirecTV.
Remember, when Sinclair first announced it would buy Tribune Broadcasting (FOX 13′s former owner), it had no intention of divesting itself of the Salt Lake City station despite the fact that it already owned KUTV, KJZZ and KMYU, and adding KSTU would have violated FCC regulations. And the last thing Utahns need is another station airing pseudo-news content from Sinclair.
The latest outrage: Sinclair came this close to airing an episode of “America This Week” that included a segment with a conspiracy theorist who claims Dr. Anthony Fauci created COVID-19. It was scheduled to air last week before the video got out and Sinclair backed off — first announcing that the segment would be reworked and then announcing it wouldn’t air at all.
According to those who saw the video, it did feature a follow-up segment with Eric Bolling interviewing a different doctor who disputed the crackpot claims — but Bolling did not challenge the crackpot doctor as he interviewed her.
This is not a gray area. Legitimate news outlets do not give airtime to unhinged conspiracy theorists. And to do so without directly challenging them is a crime against viewers.
Bolling, you may recall, had a history of making racist comments on Fox News, which he left in 2017 after it investigated reports that he sent lewd texts and photos to female co-workers, and made inappropriate sexual comments and unwanted sexual advances. But he’s a big backer of Donald Trump, so Sinclair hired him.
Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune is a content partner with FOX 13.