The popular show is sidelined because of a dispute over rights feesDish Network is dropping cable channel WGN America, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson is fighting mad about it, comparing the move to slavery.
WGN America broadcasts critically acclaimed “Underground,” a television period drama series about the Underground Railroad in Antebellum, Ga.
The series, which made its debut on WGN in March, is a hit, particularly with African-Americans. And that’s why Jackson is so upset.
“Is Dish using the same kind of math with ratings that the old south employed when enacting laws that counted African-Americans as three-fifths of a man?” Jackson wrote in a letter to Dish.
The Underground Railroad helped many African-Americans run from slavery in the South, and Jackson says the stories should continue to be told.
Jackson wrote in his letter to Dish:
“For far too long African-Americans have been underrepresented and unfavorably portrayed on television, silencing the significant contributions they have made to this country. ‘Underground’ is a crucial part of a brand-new day of diversity on television that sheds a bright light on the bravery, ingenuity and power of the African-American experience, and is being used as teachable moments in homes and history classes around the nation at a time when we need it most.”
Dish is dropping WGN America because of an issue over rights fees. The two sides have not been able to agree on a contract, and the big losers are fans of “Underground.” WGN America is showing an “Underground” marathon on July 2, and as of now, Dish subscribers won’t be able to see it.
Jackson says he will keep the pressure on, but Dish apparently isn’t feeling it. In a statement, Dish wrote:
“We are skeptical that Rev. Jackson is truly interested in finding a fair deal for Dish customers.”