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Local TV group says Dish retrans complaint is the “pot calling the kettle black”

Dish should look in the mirror before the satellite TV provider accuses broadcasters of bad faith negotiation tactics, Morgan Murphy Media said Tuesday in filing with the Federal Communications Commission.

The owner of five TV stations in Washington and Wisconsin, Morgan Murphy Media told the FCC that Dish’s recent complaint against Sinclair Broadcast Group was unconvincing because the pay TV provider “engaged in precisely the same tactic” against Morgan Murphy.

Morgan Murphy’s filing is the latest twist in the bruising battle between broadcasters and pay TV providers over which industry is to blame when retransmission consent negotiations go south. The stakes in the battle are higher, now that the FCC has started a rule making to review the “totality of circumstances” for what constitutes “good faith” negotiations in retransmission consent.

Morgan Murphy stations have been blacked out on Dish’s lineup since Aug. 13, following two extensions. According to Morgan Murphy, Dish rejected Morgan Murphy’s offer of a third extension that included terms similar to those Dish offered Sinclair—to “true up” rates back to the beginning of the term.

“It is quite remarkable that Dish, having declined to agree to extend the agreement with Morgan Murphy, then argued to the commission that declining to accept an offer of a contract extension constitutes a violation of the good faith bargaining rules,” wrote Jack Goodman, Morgan Murphy’s attorney. “To paraphrase Dish, it has nothing to lose and consumers everything to gain from an extension. That observation, however, apparently applies to broadcasters but not to Dish itself. If Sinclair is found to have violated its obligation to negotiate in good faith, the same finding should be applied to Dish.”

Morgan Murphy also told the FCC that Dish was the only MVPD with which it ever failed to reach an agreement.

“The commission should pay little head to complaints from Dish and other MVPDs who are the proverbial “pot calling the kettle black.”

Dish filed a complaint with the FCC Saturday just hours before its current retrans consent agreement with Sinclair was set to expire. On Sunday, the two parties agreed to an extension in order to hammer out the details of a new contract, and averted a blackout.