Dish Network filed a lawsuit against Tribune broadcasting recently. The satellite giant accused that Tribune was making false, misleading, deceptive, and unfair statements about them, and thereby encouraging their subscribers to end their contracts and change to a different provider.
It all started when Tribune insisted that Dish agree to pay 2.4 times what they currently paid to them for the rights to retransmit various broadcast network affiliates. Dish network asked for an arbitration with Tribune, but both the companies failed to reach a mutually agreeable term.
Tribune’s 42 TV stations and WGN America went dark on Dish on June 12 when the two parties failed to renew their contract. About 50 million of Dish’s satellite customers were unable to see Tribune stations, and about 7 million were unable to watch WGNA after that. This means, viewers were restricted to watch Tribune’s basic entertainment cable network and the home of hit shows ‘Underground’ and ‘Outsiders’.
In addition, millions of Dish subscribers across the country missed Games 5, 6, and 7 of an exciting and historic NBA Finals, the Game 6 of the NHL Finals, the U.S. Open Golf Tournament, and multiple baseball games involving the New York Yankees and Mets, and the Chicago White Sox and Cubs, because of the dispute among the companies.
In wake of that, Tribune created websites to tell Dish subscribers they are losing access to Tribune programming. Tribune’s use of the trademarked Dish name and logo in words like ‘dishgusting’ and ‘dishturbing’ had a bad impact on the value of Dish’s brand.
The lawsuit seeks compensation for subscribers Dish has lost, potential subscribers turned away, increased customer service staffing needed to handle subscribers’ calls about Tribune’s campaign, and damage to Dish’s reputation. “Tribune’s campaign is nothing more than a false and deceptive ploy to force Dish to accept Tribune’s terms by disparaging Dish,” the lawsuit said.
The damage already done cannot be cured, because once the subscribers switch their service providers, it is difficult to get them back. Dish Network will have to suffer significantly as a result of the misleading messages by Tribune.
Interestingly, Tribune Media Co. did not respond directly to the charges. Instead, they called the Dish Network lawsuit “frivolous and a distraction that does nothing to restore service to millions of Dish subscribers in our markets across the country, which should be Dish’s primary concern.”