Residents unhappy about unavailability of TV channels

Published 3:50 pm Friday, August 2, 2013

By Justin Averette | The Demopolis Times

Channels owned by Raycom Media, parent company of WSFA-12 in Montgomery and WBRC-6 in Birmingham, are currently not being shown on DISH Network.

A contract between the two companies expired Thursday before a new agreement could be reached, so both stations, along with others in 30 additional markets, are not currently being broadcast on DISH.

In a press release, DISH Network said they offered to pay Raycom the same rates as their competitors for the same content.

“We are ready to listen to a fair proposal from Raycom to bring this impasse to a swift end,” said Sruta Vootukuru, DISH director of programming. “Unfortunately, the broadcaster has not been willing to pursue an agreement that would have avoided this disruption of service to our customers and the Raycom viewers. DISH has offered to pay Raycom the same rates as our primary competitors; yet Raycom has stalled negotiations, refusing to accept that fair offer. DISH has negotiated hundreds of local retransmission agreements and on behalf of customers, we hope Raycom will soon agree to terms in line with market standards.”

In a post on its website, WSFA said the station has been working with DISH for several months, but an agreement has not yet been made.

“In order to be brought into the homes of our viewers, we need to reach agreements with the cable and satellite companies that serve our market. We are proud of the fact that we have agreements in place with every distributor in our area. Unfortunately, we have been unable to reach an agreement with DISH Network,” the WSFA post reads in part.

“As a result of not having an agreement in place with DISH Network, WSFA 12 News is currently not available to its customers. We understand this is frustrating for DISH Network customers, and we share their frustration. We are committed to doing everything we can to resolve this issue with DISH Network.”

Eddy Lockhart and Lisa Sewell were among local residents missing out on some of their favorite television programming.

Lockhart, a Clanton resident, said he watches news on Fox 6 every day, but when he turned on his television Thursday morning he noticed the channel was not available.

He said if an agreement is not reached, he would switch providers.

“If they don’t have it straightened out, probably by the end of this month, I’m probably going to start my September with a new carrier,” Lockhart said.

WSFA suggests either calling DISH and asking that the station be put back on the air, or switching to a provider that does offer their station.

DISH Network contends that switching providers is not the answer. They said that would encourage programmers to raise rate demands, which drives up the costs for everyone.

DISH added that if a customer wants to let Raycom know how they feel about the situation, call WSFA station manager Collin Gaston or WBRC station manager Lou Kerchen.

Lisa Sewell of Thorsby said she bought a package of local channels to be able to watch Fox 6 programming. Sewell said she tried to call DISH but never talked to anyone with the company after being put on hold for a while.

“I’m totally frustrated with it, and I want my Master Chef back soon,” she said about her favorite show.

For more from WSFA, visit

For more from DISH Network, visit

Managing editor Stephen Dawkins contributed to this report.