Jesse Jackson Compares DISH Tactics to Slavery in WGN-‘Underground’ Fight

Satellite TV provider is using same kind of math “that the old south employed when enacting laws that counted African-Americans as three-fifths of a man,” civil rights leader says

Last Updated: June 27, 2016 @ 4:13 PM

Rev. Jesse Jackson has stepped into a nasty TV carriage battle between DISH and WGN, the maker of the acclaimed slavery drama “Underground.”

In a letter last week, Jackson attacked the satellite provider for pulling Tribune Media’s WGN from its lineup for the past two weeks in a fight over retransmission fees.

But he didn’t stop there. The civil rights leader also compared DISH to the slave-holding antebellum South by discounting the impact “Underground” has had on black communities.

Jackson wrote that “Underground” had broken ratings records for WGN, which is based in Jackson’s hometown of Chicago — and asked: “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 that “Underground,” which tells the story of the pre-Civil War Underground Railroad that helped slaves make their way north to freedom, “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.”

In a statement, DISH replied that Jackson is “only listening to the Tribune side of the story” and that Tribune and Jackson failed to respond to an offer to meet and discuss the issues at play.

“We are skeptical that Rev. Jackson is truly interested in finding a fair deal for DISH customers,” the company wrote.

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