UPDATE, 7:10 AM: The announcement, without details, hit literally a minute after I posted the story below about the companies’ decision to extend their negotiations. The companies simply say that they “have reached an agreement regarding Dish Network’s continued retransmission of Gannett stations.”
PREVIOUS, 7:05 AM: The old contract that enabled Dish Network to offer programming from Gannett stations in 19 markets expired at midnight. But Dish customers continue to see them: The companies said this morning that “both sides have agreed to extend the deadline by several hours” to work out a new agreement. Dish said on Friday that it had agreed to a 200% increase in the fees it pays to carry stations controlled by Gannett. The increase is “the same as our closest direct competitor” — presumably DirecTV.
But Dish said it was prepared to fight because Gannett wants it “to pay a significant penalty for allowing our customers access to AutoHop,” the controversial feature on its Hopper DVRs that gives subscribers the ability to record all major network prime time shows and automatically skip past the ads. Broadcasters are suing Dish, alleging that the feature infringes on their copyrights and undermines their ability to pay for programming. But Dish says that “Consumers have had the right to skip commercials since the advent of the remote control. We are simply providing consumers with the choice to watch what they want, when they want.” Dish serves about 15.5% of the more than 20M households served by Gannett’s stations, according to SNL Kagan. Gannett has major network outlets in cities including including Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Louis, and Washington, DC and is one of the country’s leading owners of NBC affiliates.