Dish Network to add local channels to subscription packages

Gabe Semenza

June 1, 2010 at 1:01 a.m.

Area Dish Network subscribers can for the first time on Thursday watch local channels via the satellite service, the TV provider announced.

Dish Network plans to launch local broadcast channels in 29 new markets, including Victoria.

The company unveiled the plan after President Barack Obama signed into law last month the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010.

The bill renews statutory licenses that allow satellite TV companies to retransmit broadcast stations, which had been blocked until now. If you subscribed to satellite TV, you couldn't receive local channels.

"We are the first TV provider period to provide local channels in all 210 U.S. markets," said Francie Bauer, a Dish Network spokeswoman.

Local channels will include:

ABC: 25

NBC: 4

FOX: 19

Current subscribers will have to call the company on Thursday to add the local channels to their subscription package, which Bauer said would likely cost $5 more per month.

"If you've been a long-time customer, there are certain allowances we can offer to you," she said. "Call in, and see what's available."

Customers can on Thursday call 1-800-894-9131.

DirecTV, another satellite television provider, said it also plans to unveil a similar plan for local channels. Robert Mercer is a DirecTV spokesman.

"We will provide access to DirecTV-delivered locals for 97 percent of U.S. TV households by year's end and we are in the process of planning the launch of more markets beyond 2010," Mercer said. "When those plans are firmed up, we will announce them at the appropriate time."

DirecTV won't launch local channels now because of satellite capacity limitations and business considerations, Mercer said.

"We must evaluate that before launching any local market," he said. "It's not a simple matter of just flipping a switch."

Bauer, the Dish Network spokeswoman, declined to say how many area subscribers her company maintains but said service is available to 29,000 Victoria households.



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