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Local News

Dispute Could Remove KEYT, KKFX For Santa Barbara County Dish Customers

Dish customers may lose two local television stations if no agreement is reached on the fee the satellite firm pays to air the local ABC and Fox network affiliates.

The dispute involves Dish and News-Press & Gazette Company, which owns Santa Barbara-based KEYT-TV along with KKFX-TV.

Dish customers have been warned negotiations for a new carriage contract are in progress and could end with losing access to the local ABC and Fox affiliates.

“KEYT, KKFX and Dish have been in negotiations for continued carriage of KEYT and KKFX on Dish’s service and have made meaningful progress,” KEYT officials posted on the station’s Facebook page.

The current agreement will expire at 4 p.m. Thursday, KEYT officials said, after both sides agreed to an extension from the original deadline of 3 p.m. Tuesday. 

“This station and Dish have been negotiating a new carriage agreement,” NPG officials said.

“We are hopeful a new agreement can be reached prior to the expiration of the current agreement.”

Dish representatives said they are working to finalize a deal before the contract expires.

“Only News Press & Gazette Company can force a blackout of its channels. Dish has successfully negotiated agreements representing hundreds of stations in recent months that benefit all parties, including our viewers,” Dish officials told Noozhawk.

“We are unsure why News Press & Gazette decided to involve customers in the contract negotiation process at a point when there is still time for the two parties to reach a mutually beneficial deal.”

If no agreement is reached, Dish customers will lose access to the KEYT and KKFX news, weather and programming, but could access them over-the-air methods or other satellite or cable providers, NPG officials said.

Federal law since 1992 has required cable and satellite providers to obtain permission to redistribute broadcast programming and prohibits carrying replacement networks from outside the local market. 

This “retransmission consent” requirement was put in place by Congress to protect local broadcasters.

Every few years, local stations and the satellite and cable providers that carry them negotiate new retransmission consent agreements that include a programming fee, among other provisions.

Spats like these between local television stations and cable or satellite companies are not uncommon.

Earlier this year, a disagreement removed KSBY-TV from Dish service for a few days before both sides reached an agreement.. 

Three years ago, a contract dispute between KEYT and DirecTV disrupted service for approximately two weeks in 2013.

The 60-year-old NPG Broadcasting owns or operates 42 TV network affiliates in addition to radio stations and multiple digital platforms. Along with owning KEYT and KKFX, the firm operates KCOY-TV

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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