WGN America's hit series Underground has given the network a huge boost in viewership and ratings. But the many WGN viewers who subscribe to Dish TV are about to be without the network and show. As of last week, the network was removed from Dish because of an ongoing carriage dispute. Now civil rights activist and Rainbow PUSH Coalition founder Jesse Jackson is urging the satellite-TV provider to add WGN back to its channel lineup.
Jackson sent Dish Chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen a letter in support of having Dish put WGN America back on its air.
The letter stated in part:
While DISH's decision to pull WGN America from its lineup might seem, on the
surface, like a disagreement between two parties - the ripple effect of that
decision is greater than anyone might realize. This news is disappointing on so
many levels. As illustrated by their critically acclaimed series, "Underground,"
WGN America is deeply committed to sharing positive portrayals of African
Americans and instilling a sense of hope and positivity at a time when our nation
needs it most. Its impact, at the most basic level, is to promote the African
American experience in a way that speaks to the next generation-something that
the executives at DISH should keep in mind.
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. Never
before have we seen a serialized program focusing on the American heroes of the
Underground Railroad, those who had nothing yet used what little they had to
make it to freedom. It is an inspiring and moving narrative that we need to retell
again and again if we are to heal this country and the shift the divisive dialogue
to one of hope and understanding.
Every other distributor has recognized the value of "Underground," and we're
extremely saddened to hear that the Underground train has literally left the
station and DISH is not on board. It's a move that impacts viewers in a way that
is palpable and reminds those in the African American community that their
stories don't hold much weight when it comes to addressing differences among
Underground recently wrapped up its first season, and those who subscribe to the Dish Network won't be able to watch a marathon of the show's episodes July 2. If you are a fan of Underground and a subscriber to the Dish Network, reach out to Dish and let it know you want access to Underground and WGN America.