Dish Network Sues Tribune Broadcasting Over ‘Dump Dish’ Campaign

Image courtesy of Jim Ellwanger

The retransmission agreement between Dish Network and Tribune Broadcasting is up, and that means it’s time for a protracted negotiation. This time, the content company and the satellite company are dragging customers who probably just want to go watch some baseball into the dispute. This time, Tribune is urging Dish subscribers to just use a different cable provider. Dish Network doesn’t appreciate the campaign or its website, and has sued Tribune Broadcasting.


There’s a general “Dump Dish” site, and then sites for each of the Tribune Broadcasting-owned local network affiliates.

On the sites, Tribune encourages Dish customers to haul out their antennas and view local stations that way, or “switch to an alternative pay-TV provider,” the company suggests, pointing out that “many offer excellent incentives to switch.”

Tribune is also encouraging customers to complain on Dish’s Facebook page, which they have been doing.

Dish Network’s latest move has been to file a lawsuit [PDF] against the the owner of local stations and cable network WGN America.

“Tribune’s publication of the misleading and deceptive statements on its channels and these websites causes actual harm to DISH,” the company’s attorneys explain in their initial complaint. “Among other things, DISH’s subscribers flood DISH’s customer service lines with questions about the Tribune messages, some subscribers cancel their DISH subscriptions, and DISH’s goodwill as a reliable service provider is eroded.”

In response to the lawsuit, Tribune reiterated its key talking point that this is Dish’s fifteenth blackout against a channel or group of channels in the last three years, and claims that the company refused to sign extensions that would have kept Tribune-owned stations on the air into August so the companies would have more time to negotiate.

Tribune isn’t even the only fight that Dish is in with a content company right now; they’re also blacking out the National Football League’s cable channels. The NFL has a more polite website than the “Dump Dish” campaign, but it also encourages Dish customers to go ahead and find a more football-friendly TV provider if they want the channels back.

A few years ago, during a protracted dispute with the AMC family of cable networks, Dish representatives actually offered persistent customers a Roku streaming device and a subscription through Amazon for Breaking Bad. Sending a subscriber a digital antenna doesn’t have quite the same impact.

Dish Sues Tribune For Urging Customers to Switch TV Providers [DSLReports]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.