Circle City Broadcasting Sues DISH for Discrimination
The parent of WISH-TV and WNDY-TV in Indianapolis is looking to take a major television provider to court. Circle City Broadcasting LLC has filed a federal lawsuit against DISH Network Corp. (Nasdaq: DISH) on claims of racial discrimination. Circle City, along with the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, says DISH failed to “negotiate a television retransmission contract in good faith with a minority-owned business” after the company acquired the stations from Texas-based Nexstar Media Group Inc. (Nasdaq: NXST) in 2019.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. In the suit, the plaintiffs argue the stations’ previous owner, Nexstar, was “being paid significant fees.”
“That was until Circle City, the minority-owned and operated business, came along offering equal if not superior content,” the lawsuit says. “However, because Circle City is minority owned, Dish prepared a special deal for it. Dish readily propounded a supposed contract offer to Circle City that would pay only a tiny fraction of the fees believed to have been paid to Nexstar, and refused to negotiate with Circle City for a fair price, effectively hobbling Circle City’s ability to serve its market.”
According to a letter sent by Circle City owner DuJuan McCoy to the Federal Communications Commission last October, which was included along with the lawsuit, McCoy said the company requested DISH to continue paying the same retransmission fees as it had for Nexstar. However, he claimed DISH refused the offer and “demanded” Circle City allow the provider to carry the stations for free.
Circle City says it has been able to secure long-term retransmission agreements with other major providers, including Comcast and Charter. The company is also continuing negotiations with AT&T/DirecTV.
The plaintiffs claim DISH “has engaged in, and is engaging in, intentional racial discrimination in contracting,” which is a violation of federal law. Circle City is seeking retransmission fees “at a fair market rate,” as well as punitive damages, interest, and attorneys’ fees and costs.
In a statement to Inside INdiana Business, DISH said, “We intend to vigorously defend ourselves against these baseless claims.”
You can view the lawsuit in the document below or by clicking here.
Editor’s Note: Circle City Broadcasting is the parent company of WISH-TV, which is a flagship station for Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.