If you're a Dish Network subscriber, you lost a couple channels at the end of last week: Fox Sports Wisconsin, FX and National Geographic Channel.
It's the latest contract dispute over how much a TV service will pay a program provider (with the costs passed along to the subscriber.)
Usually, these disputes are settled by deadline time. A similar dispute between Time Warner Cable and Disney featured threats of an ESPN blackout. A settlement prevented that.
This this time, Fox pulled the plug on satellite subscribers.
In the Milwaukee area, it means the loss of the final few Brewers games for subscribers to the satellite service. And if it's not settled soon, it could mean a blackout of Milwaukee Bucks games for those subscribers.
I talked with Mike Dimond, senior vice president of Fox Sports Wisconsin and Fox Sports North, and he continued to play hardball, advising disgruntled Dish Network subscribers that they still had a way to get the channel.
"There are alternatives," he said in a phone conversation. The good part is they have choices, DirecTV and Time Warner or Charter cable."
The negotiations aren't handled at Dimond's level. They go on at higher up the corporate ladder. And both sides are trying to enlist subscribers to their side.
Fox is doing it through www.getwhatipaidfor.com, or at 1-877-99-I-PAID.
Dish Network offered this statement on the Fox sports blackout:
"Fox's removal of the channels follows the programmer's national TV, print and web advertising campaign designed to intimidate DISH Network and its customers into paying the rate increase. FOX has flatly refused DISH Network's request to allow customers to continue to watch these FOX channels during the negotiations."
Dish's Web sites include www.foxshakedowndish.com.
If this isn't settled this month, Fox will pull its network owned-and-operated stations. That won't affect us in Milwaukee, since Channel 6 is no longer owned by Fox.
On the air: After a dispute sent three captains leaving the show, Discovery Channel says it's bringing back "Deadliest Catch" for a seventh season.
- There's talk of a strike at the BBC, which could affect viewers of BBC newscasts on Milwaukee Public TV. Stations have been warned that while the regular newscasts will continue to be fed to affiliates, they would feature a 10-minute news highlight with the rest of the time taken up by a special report. If it happens, the strike action is expected to last a day or two.
- WYMS-FM (88.9), better known to listeners as Radio Milwaukee, is in a fund drive that runs through Friday.
- If you really really really wanted to see Susan Boyle sing on tonight's "Dancing with the Stars," I have some bad news for you. The British "reality" TV star has a throat infection and had to back out of the ABC show.
- Conan O'Brien's latest TBS promo has him washing his desk in preparation for the Nov. 8 launch of his new show:
A must for Anglophiles: "The Queen" aired over five nights on Great Britain's Channel 4 in November and the blend of documentary footage and imagined drama has yet to run on American television.
But the five different chapters from the nearly 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth is out in at two-DVD set released today by Acorn Media, and it's a must-see if you're interest in modern Britain. Five different actresses play the queen at different stages in her life, starting with Emilia Fox, who plays a queen who must deal with her sister's affair with a divorced royal servant.
Of course it's a bit of a soap opera, but there's some heaviness in the later episodes as we learn that the queen and Margaret Thatcher didn't get along, with the queen harder on South African apartheid than you might have expected.
Queen Elizabeth has always seemed far more boring than the characters around her, from Princess Diana to her sister, Princess Margaret. But these characterizations give her some flesh and blood.
Here's the trailer:
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.