Jesse Jackson Is Trying to Save WGN America and Underground From Being Removed From the Dish Network

Actors Aldis Hodge and Jurnee Smollett-Bell in a scene from the TV show Underground
WGN America
Actors Aldis Hodge and Jurnee Smollett-Bell in a scene from the TV show Underground
WGN America

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.