By Miriam Raftery
October 1, 2017 (Campo) – Backcountry residents in San Diego’s East County are baffled as to why, after they signed up for Dish TV satellite service, Dish has inexplicably dropped carrying CW San Diego programming.
“I think it probably that local fans don’t even know that they will be unable to watch the new fall line-up, including the new season of Supernatural," a popular program aired on CW, says Billie Jo Jannen, chair of the Campo-Lake Morena Community Planning Group.
Jannen, a Dish subscriber, says Dish “still charges us the same for local channels” even after dropping CW San Diego. She points out the rural residents rely on satellite and don’t have a wide range of other options. “We have no access to cable and most don’t have the bandwidth to use a firestick or the like.”
CW San Diego, along with the KFMB CBS affiliate in San Diego, are owned by Midwest Television. In January, XETV lost its CW affiliate to KFMB Channel 8, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. KFFMB became the CW local affiliate starting May 31. According to that article, "Beginning May 31, cable viewers will likely find all CW network programming (including “Supernatural” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) and CW San Diego local news on Channel 6. (That will definitely be the channel position for Cox Cable and Spectrum customers, and KFMB anticipates that Direct TV, Dish and AT&T U-verse will keep CW San Diego on Channel 6 as well.) As of May 31, over-the-air viewers will find the CW network shows and CW San Diego programming on Channel 8.2."
So why has Dish declined to carry CW for rural areas in East County?
KFMB programming and marketing manager Judy Albrecht told Jannen in an email on September 5th that the decision to drop the local CW station was made by Dish. “We have requested they carry us and we are not asking for any compensation,” she wrote, adding, “They are the only cable/satellite distributor that is not carrying the CW San Diego.”
Jannen said Ryan Vogler, executive escalations case manager at Dish told her that CW only offered the station free for a limited time. When ECM contacted him for confirmation, he referred us to Courtney Culpepper.
Courtney Culpepper at Dish TV responded to ECM’s inquiry and confirmed CW San Diego is not available currently on Dish’s lineup. “Local affiliate stations, like the CW in San Diego, retain the exclusive rights to distribute network or syndicated programming within a given market,” she said, adding that due to the station’s in-market monopoly, Dish could not substitute an out-of-market station or national feed to bring popular national programs to its viewers here.
But KFMB president and general manager Alberto Mier y Teran disputed Culpepper’s claims.
“We want Dish to carry our CW station. We offered Dish the right to carry; we gave them transmission consent, without any compensation, and they chose not to do it,” he affirmed.
Asked if it was true that the free offer was only short-term and that higher fees would be charged to Dish long-term to carry CW San Diego, Mier y Teran told ECM on Friday, “I would say that’s untrue.”
But he clarified, “That depends on what you consider short or long term. We had over a year left on our existing deal with them for CBS (KFMB) and we wanted to add the CW station for the agreement. They chose not to do that.” He said he can’t talk about terms of the deal due to confidentially “but they could easily have added it and those not to; there would have been no negative for them.”
Mier y Teran did offer one hope for dissed Dish TV users, stating that the matter “still will be a negotiation when the deal comes up for renewal in the future,” adding that he hopes CW San Diego may eventually be added back into Dish TV’’s local lineup.
Jannen voiced frustration over the situation and the companies’ failure to cut a deal in time to let local rural residents view the fall-TV lineup. “In the meantime,” she stated in an email yesterday that the new season of programs such as Supernatural "have started without us.”