Pot? Kettle? The Screen is Still Black

Ever heard of LIN Media? It’s quite possible that you haven’t. It’s a company that owns local broadcast television stations across the country, from Albuquerque to Toledo. In many markets, it owns more than one station, such as the CBS and CW affiliates in Buffalo, or the NBC and ABC affiliates in Grand Rapids.

If you’re a DISH Network subscriber in any of these 17 markets, however, you probably know about LIN Media. Because at midnight last Friday, all these channels went dark on the the satellite subscriber service. The problem is that the local broadcasters feel that if DISH is collecting money from subscribers, then the broadcasters should get a piece of the action in return for the content that they provide. On the other hand, this is content that viewers can get for free, at least in theory, just by hanging out an antenna.

The fact is that the two sides could not reach an agreement, and the channels were not available anymore. Did LIN pull them, or did DISH block them? Who knows? You can read the War of the Words here and here if you want to go to the source. But the bottom line remains; subscribers are held hostage when the content providers and the television subscription services disagree on how to divide up the money. I don’t expect that consumers will put up with it much longer, and we’re likely to see the federal government stepping into the fray.