Dish Network faces scrutiny after CNZ Communications, owner of WGBP-TV in Alabama, filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission over a carriage dispute.
CNZ Communications has transmitters in the Atlanta and Columbus, Georgia Designated Market Area (DMA) and claims Dish Network is required to offer the station in both areas from 2024 through 2026. While Dish Network will carry the station in the Atlanta DMA, the company said it was only required to offer WGBP-TV in Lee County, Alabama, which is part of the Columbus DMA.
The company filed a complaint with the FCC on December 11 to resolve the dispute.
“As one of the few stations in the country that is licensed to a community located in one local market but assigned to a different market, WGBP, under the [FCC’s] rules and precedent for satellite broadcast signal carriage, is entitled to carriage throughout both markets,” said the complaint.
The companies have disagreed over the wording surrounding these DMAs for several months. By law, Satellite TV providers are required to carry local station signals, but CNZ Communications disagrees with WGBP-TV’s limited distribution. In a letter on October 31, Dish Network said that CNZ Communications was misunderstanding their distribution agreement.
“CNZ seems to be conflating language that enables a broadcast station to assert mandatory carriage rights in two separate DMAs in cases where its community of license is located outside of its Nielsen-assigned DMA, with an obligation for the DBS provider to simultaneously carry such broadcast station throughout the entirety of both DMAs,” the letter said. “This reading is incorrect.”
CNZ Communications said Dish Network’s reply was “nonsensical” and goes against the Copyright Act and Commission’s rules. It cited similar situations from 2000 and 2022, where the FCC upheld mandatory carriage rights in both DMAs. However, Dish Network claims carrying the station in both DMAs goes against the law.