Dish Network drops stations, including WLEX, in contract dispute

Herald-Leader Staff Report

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WLEX in Lexington, an NBC affiliate, is among stations across the United States affected by a contract dispute blackout between Dish Network and Cordillera Communications, the Minnesota-based owner of the stations.

Because of the dispute, numerous stations have gone dark on Dish Network as of Thursday afternoon. In addition to WLEX, stations in Montana, California, Louisiana and Arizona are affected.

At issue is the fee that Dish must pay Cordillera to retransmit its signals. Dish claims to have 14 million subscribers nationwide, but it will not publicly say in what cities and states they are located.

For viewers affected by the blackout, that means that weekend fare such as Sunday evening’s broadcast of the Golden Globe Awards might not be available on their Dish package.

Cordillera president Terrance Hurley said, “Dish believes it is entitled to significantly better terms than its peers and has a consistent record of disputes with broadcasters. In fact, in 2015 alone, Dish forced blackouts that affected more than half of the 210 television markets in America.”

In its Thursday news release, Dish contended that Cordillera was using an upcoming NFL wild-card playoff game as leverage to force the rate increase.