Robservations: Dish Network turns up heat on Nexstar renewal


Robservations on the media beat:

Dish Network

Nexstar Media Group threatens largest local station blackout in TV history, according to Dish,” blared the headline on Dish Network’s press release Thursday. It accused the parent company of WGN-Channel 9 and the WGN America cable network of demanding “unreasonable rate increases” and threatening “to blackout its stations from Dish customers to gain negotiation leverage.” (Here is the link.) Given Dish’s long history of service interruptions with station groups and networks, it seemed reasonable that Nexstar stations began warning viewers that Dish subscribers might face a service interruption starting Wednesday when Nexstar’s contract with Dish expires. “Despite our tireless efforts, Dish has refused our fair offer and is making negotiations very difficult,” Nexstar posted on station websites. “You might have seen them do this before. They will tell you it’s for your benefit, but don’t believe it.” (Here is the link.) For what it’s worth, the deal Nexstar is seeking is similar to those reached with hundreds of other cable, satellite, and teleco operators without interruptions. Beyond that, it’s little more than posturing we’ve seen so many times before.

Marlen Garcia

Just two months after her promotion to deputy managing editor for breaking news and staff development, Marlen Garcia announced on Twitter that she’s leaving the Sun-Times, effective December 4. No reason was cited, but interim editor-in-chief Steve Warmbir told me: “We are planning to name a replacement, but whoever that is will have enormous shoes to fill. Marlen did a phenomenal job for the Sun-Times and our readers. She is an incredibly talented journalist and anyone would be fortunate to have her leading their team. She is a highly respected and beloved colleague and will be sorely missed at the Sun-Times.” A graduate of Maine West High School and Illinois State University, Garcia worked as a sports reporter for the Chicago Tribune and USA Today before joining the Sun-Times in 2012.

Richard Babcock

It’s been almost 10 years since Richard Babcock stepped down after two decades as the exemplary editor of Chicago magazine. But he still remembers the story that got away from him. Writer Mike Thomas caught up with Babcock to glean a few recollections for the December edition of Chicago, billed as its 50th anniversary issue. “One thing that completely blew past me: My wife and I used to go regularly to Second City in the ’90s. We’d come home and talk about how Steve Carell was the funniest guy we’d ever seen,” Babcock recalled. “And it just never occurred to me to assign a story.”

Chaz Ebert

You can now add songwriter to the list of credits for Chaz Ebert. The CEO of Ebert Digital and publisher of the movie-review site just released “I Remember People” — a timely ode she wrote to pandemic lockdown fatigue. The bluesy-jazzy tune was composed by Chris Nava and recorded by The Chicago Soul Spectacular. (Here is the link.) Lead singer Rashada Dawan previously portrayed Ebert in two plays — “The Black/White Love Play” and “The Great Debate: It’s Out of This World” at Victory Gardens Theater. “I wanted to send a message that I feel you,” Ebert said of the song. “We need each other, and help is on the way.”

Dean Richards

Wednesday’s comment of the day: Dean Richards: Thanks for the mention of “Bozo, Gar & Ray: WGN TV Classics” & “Bozo’s Circus: The 1960s.” And thanks for all of the nice comments about them both. Just like Victory Auto Wreckers, I’m very proud of these shows. As for more specials, sadly they just didn’t save the old shows. What you see is pretty much what there is. We always hope to find more broadcast quality footage. Regarding “Family Classics,” local TV stations don’t have access to the great movies anymore. Rights to those films have been gobbled up by streaming services and cable channels. I just don’t want to do ‘FC’ if we’re showing movies like “Freddie Got Fingered.”