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Bonten, DISH disconnect in retrans battle

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Bonten, DISH disconnect in retrans battle

Although it averted a blackout with Gray Television Inc., DISH Network Corp. subscribers lost access to stations owned by Bonten Media Group LLC in eight markets on Jan. 17.

Bonten Chairman and CEO Randy Bongarten said in a Jan. 18 interview that the stations had remained available to DISH's subscribers through three short-term extensions after the parties’ contract expired on Jan. 15.

"DISH is a valued distributor of Bonten Media Group," he said. "We continue to work toward resolving the economic and other differences we have been unable to agree on so far. I'm confident that we will."

Bongarten, in an interview on Jan. 17, said the parties had been engaged in negotiations.

DISH in a release said it had been making steady progress in recent discussions with Bonten, and the DBS provider was hopeful that they would come to a mutual agreement to renew carriage of the local stations.

"With DISH willing to grant an extension and a retroactive true-up on rates, Bonten had nothing to lose and consumers had everything to gain by leaving the channels up," Warren Schlichting, DISH executive vice president of programming, said in a statement. "Instead, Bonten chose to turn its back on its public-interest obligations and use innocent consumers as bargaining chips."

DISH said it continues to negotiate with Bonten.

Last night, Gray announced that it reached an agreement in principle with DISH, averting an expected blackout of 99 stations in 54 markets. The companies had faced a 7 p.m. ET deadline on Jan. 17.