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Judge allows Circle City Broadcasting to call damages expert against DISH Network

(WISH Photo)

Lawsuit claims racial discrimination by satellite TV provider

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The owner of WISH-TV and WNDY will be allowed to call an expert on damages in its racial discrimination lawsuit against DISH Network.

A federal judge in Indianapolis on Thursday rejected a DISH Network motion to block the testimony of Dr. Mark Fratrik, senior vice president of BIA Services.

Circle City Broadcasting, the parent company of WISH-TV and MyINDY-TV 23 in Indianapolis, sued DISH in 2020, claiming the satellite provider refused to offer fair-market compensation for airing the stations’ news and programming.

DuJuan McCoy, the owner, president and chief executive officer of Circle City Broadcasting and one of the nation’s leading Black television station owners, said in court filings that DISH’s decision was racially motivated.

The suit accuses DISH of “maintaining the industry’s decades long policies and practices of discriminating against minority-owned broadcasters by paying the non-minority broadcasters significant fees to rebroadcast their stations and channels while offering practically no fees to the historically disadvantaged broadcaster and programmer for the exact same or superior programming.”

DISH Network has not carried Circle City Broadcasting stations since October 2019.

Circle City Broadcasting has planned to call Fratrik as a witness to establish monetary damages in the contract dispute.

The BIA Services website lists Fratrik as its chief economist responsible for economic forecasting across all local media segments.

A separate federal court ruling in March allowed the Circle City lawsuit to continue.

In that ruling, Chief Judge Tanya Walton Pratt found that Circle City had submitted “enough in the way of facts to at minimal, present a circumstantial case for intentional discrimination.”

Pratt also wrote that “the Court is persuaded by Circle City’s argument that an extensive comparison of these channels for purposes of determining disparate treatment due to race would require a factual inquiry.”

The case is scheduled for trial in May 2022.