Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Echostar Dish Propagandizes Subcribers


I was very unhappy about the Dish/Viacom dispute, and based upon the info I received from Dish, I was ready to blame Viacom. The "infomercial" featuring Echostar's CEO -- run on the Dish CBS channel -- makes it appear that Viacom pulled the channel.

I called customer service to discuss the issue, and the rep gave me the same impression. I specifically asked the rep, and they said "Viacom pulled our programming." I couldn't believe it, so I called back, and spoke to a different rep. I got the same story.

The fact is that this is a lie.

It turns out that Dish "pulled" major cities in order to generate a response. They are running propaganda campaign, lying to their clients and asking them to call Viacom, the F.C.C., etc.

I spoke to customer service, yet again this morning, and they repeated the falsehood. The real story has been running on CNBC and the NYT:

"EchoStar Communications pulled CBS from its satellite service in 16 cities yesterday and dropped all of Viacom's cable networks, including MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, nationwide because of stalled contract negotiations over fees for carrying the channels. The move took place at 3 a.m. Eastern time just as a federal court order that temporarily required Viacom to provide the channels to EchoStar's 9.4 million subscribers expired.

EchoStar's decision to stop carrying the 16 CBS owned-and-operated stations will affect only 1.6 million of its 9.4 million subscribers. However, EchoStar is pulling the Viacom cable networks off its entire network, meaning all 9.4 million will not be able to see MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and all its other channels. EchoStar has said it will credit each subscriber who loses CBS $1 a month. Consumers who lose the cable networks will receive a comparable-size credit . . .

The situation is reminiscent of the short battle in 1999 between ABC and Time Warner Cable when Time Warner removed ABC from its cable networks over a fee dispute. Consumer outcry was so strong that Time Warner reinstated the network in a matter of days."

This behavior is utterly outrageous. For a company to outright lie and propagandize their customers is totally unacceptable.

If you are a dish customer, you should call them up demand they reinstate service to CBS and Comedy Central: 800-333-3474

Or, call the FCC
Phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)

"As we said in our statement last night, we are disturbed and disappointed by EchoStar's decision to pull the plug on our channels. This is channel yanking by a distributor on an unprecedented scale. This is not something we wanted to happen or would ever want to happen. We are broadcasters and programmers, and the most important relationship we have is with our viewers. The idea that something or someone would disrupt that relationship -- particularly in an effort to extort a better deal for themselves -- is, to us, really reprehensible. And, additionally, as consumer oriented people, it really bothers us to see a company treat its customers with such disregard."

EchoStar Removes Some CBS Stations and Viacom Service

Viacom Press Briefing on EchoStar Pulling our Networks

Posted at 09:48 AM in Media | Permalink


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The agreement between Viacom and Echostar ended so if Echostar continued providing Viacom's stations they could be sued or have to pay whatever fees Viacom chose by default. Dish didn't threaten to take away the superbowl, it was Viacom. No one is innocent in this situation, but at least someone is looking out for the interests of the viewers by fighting a major increase. Let them continue to boycott these stations, I still have plenty to watch. Prices are way to high as it is.

Posted by: jadebuddha | Mar 10, 2004 11:02:03 AM

Ths issue is not whether their are enough channels -- Rather, its why Dish is lying to their customers, and playing their subscribers for Pawns.

It may not be the Super Bowl, but March Madness starts next week!

This is not the first time Dish has yanked their subscribers chains . . .

Posted by: Barry Ritholtz | Mar 10, 2004 11:22:35 AM

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