With the NFL playoffs looming this weekend, DISH TV and Northwest Broadcasting, the parent of local FOX affiliate KMVU, have dug in their heels — pointing fingers like a cornerback and wide receiver who got tangled up as a pass whizzed by.
Sunday's wild-card playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins is set for a 1:30 p.m. PST kickoff at Fed Ex Field in Landover, Md.
That's not good news for DISH customers.
The good news for DISH subscribers is that Saturday's wild-card games are on NBC and the other Sunday game is aired by CBS.
After that, however, its gets dicey.
Englewood, Colo.-based DISH fired what Northwest Broadcasting executives considered a pre-emptive strike in the now six-week-old debate that has enraged viewers since Northwest cut off FOX signals to DISH in four markets beginning in late November.
Northwest Broadcasting has rejected DISH's offer to pay the same rates as its primary competition, DISH said in a release to reporters this week, adding Northwest is demanding unprecedented and unusual retroactive payment from DISH stretching back multiple years.
The satellite company said the demand is above and beyond what DISH has already paid for the right to carry Northwest Broadcasting during this time.
"We have offered to pay what our competitors pay for the exact same content; Northwest has rejected that fair and reasonable offer," said Andrew LeCuyer, DISH vice president of programming in a statement. "Northwest's demand for retroactive payments is simply bad business. It's like going into the grocery store and having the cashier demand you pay more money for the groceries you paid for last week."
Northwest Chief Operating Officer Jon Rand said DISH has not altered its stance in the interim.
"There is no new offer from DISH," Rand said Thursday. "They have not made any offer since they removed KMVU Nov 26th. They have stated several times to us in the last two weeks a new offer is coming, but then do not follow through."
Although DISH said it attempted to get Northwest Broadcasting to relent for Sunday's game, the broadcaster maintains that sidesteps the issue.
"Their press release introduces a new area of discussion for them — retroactive payments," Rand said. "That is the substance of this disagreement, which expired Aug. 1, 2009.
"Our company let them continue to air KMVU in good faith for these 31/2; years, with them offering their word all along that they would 'make good' on that when a new agreement was reached. That is a very common practice in these negotiations — not 'unprecedented' as they state. Their press release now seems to mock the idea since they don't want to stand by their word."
Ultimately, Rand said, the satellite company's present stance runs afoul of past announcements.
"If you look back at their previous statements," he said, "I think you will find it to be all about increases in rate. At least the true core issue is out on the table now."
Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.