|Last updated: 6/27/04 3:32 PM|
|Last updated: 6/27/04 3:32 PM|
Published: Thu, Jun 24, 2004
Cable companies say they can compete with upgraded satellite packages.
By DON SHILLING
Two satellite television companies are adding local channels in the area, making them more formidable competitors to cable television.
Starting today, Dish Network customers will be able to receive WFMJ Channel 21, WKBN Channel 27, WYFX Channel 62 and PBS Channel 45.
A verbal deal has been reached with WYTV, but documents haven't been signed, said Dave Trabert, station general manager. That channel also could be available today if the paperwork is completed, he said.
Another satellite provider, DirecTV, said it intends to offer local stations from Youngstown later this year. The start needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission and completion of agreements with a couple of the local stations, said officials for the El Segundo, Calif.-based company.
Customers of these satellite providers have had to use over-the-air antennas to pick up signals from local stations.
A 1999 federal law allowed satellite providers to offer local channels, but the providers first focused on bringing the channels to the country's largest markets.
To add local channels, the providers must create the necessary bandwidth on satellites and reach retransmission agreements with the local stations.
Julie Popp, spokeswoman for Dish Network, said it has found in other markets that many new customers sign up when local channels become available.
Dish Network, which is part of EchoStar Communications Corp. of Englewood, Colo., promotes its Digital Home Advantage as the lowest all-digital package in the country. It costs $29.99 for 60 channels plus the local channels. Other packages provide more channels.
Popp said there are no installation or dish charges and a dual tuner allows programming to be watched on two televisions. High-definition channels offered by local stations can be transferred into the system if they are picked up by an over-the-air antenna, she said.
Krista White, a spokeswoman with Armstrong Cable Services, said she is confident the cable provider will fare well when consumers compare all the details of the service. She pointed out that Armstrong provides free service calls, carries high-definition channels and offers service to multiple televisions in a home.
Chris Thomas, a Time Warner Cable spokesman, also noted that Time Warner makes repairs inside and outside a home at no charge and doesn't require converter boxes.
Time Warner didn't lose a significant number of customers in the Cleveland market when local channels were added by satellite providers and the company doesn't expect to lose many in the Youngstown market, he said.
Popp said Dish Network customers who want the local channels will receive a new dish. The current dishes are 11/2 feet wide, and the new one will be 2 feet wide.
Popp said the Youngstown market is one of three markets where it is adding local channels this week. The company provides local channels in 136 of the nation's 210 metropolitan areas. It expects to have local channels in 150 markets by the end of the year.
It is providing coverage with its nine satellites and by leasing space on other satellites.
DirecTV launched a satellite dedicated to providing local channels for 24 markets, including Youngstown, said Sarah Hecker, a company spokeswoman.
When those markets are approved by the FCC, it will be providing local channels to 130 markets. It also recently launched another satellite to provide channels to 42 more markets.