Great news for local folks with DISH satellite systems.
WTAP has been informed by DISH, that the satellite service hopes to begin offering two of WTAP’s stations on satellite within the next two months.
Those two stations would be WTAP’s NBC and FOX Parkersburg stations.
Currently, if DISH customers in Wood, Washington or Pleasants counties want to watch NBC or FOX on their satellite systems, they can only watch those stations from places like New York or Los Angeles. But those distant stations don’t offer local news, weather or sports.
Many satellite customers are not permitted to receive a distant NBC station via satellite, and must rely on antennas or cable for their local stations.
But by the end of April, that may no longer be the case for DISH customers in those three counties.
The only remaining hurdle is legislation now pending in Congress, spelling out the rights and responsibilities of the two major satellite companies. If that bill were to get hung up, it could delay the activation of local signals, like WTAP’s.
Local stations have been available via satellite in many larger communities for a number of years. But the satellite companies are now working to make that service available in every community.
The Parkersburg-Marietta community is not the only one in our region whose local stations have not been available on satellite. TV stations in the Wheeling-Steubenville market are also not yet on satellite. The stations in Beckley and Bluefield just went on satellite in the fall of 2009.
“This is potentially great news,” says WTAP’s vice-president and general manager, Roger Sheppard. “Gray Television, which owns WTAP, has had an agreement for several years with both DISH and DirecTV, to permit them to carry all of Gray’s stations on satellite. The companies have put up signals from all of Gray’s markets with the exception of its two smallest – Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Parkersburg-Marietta. But at long last, DISH is taking a serious look at both of those markets.
“If this happens, it will further expand the availability of WTAP’s stations to even more homes in the Mid-Ohio Valley,” Sheppard said. “We already have all three stations going out free, over-the-air, digitally. They are also available on every cable system in the region. And our local newscasts are available, live on the internet, every day of the week. Being on satellite will help folks receive us, without having to install or bother with an outdoor antenna.”
This does not affect DirecTV customers in Wood, Washington and Pleasants counties, who will still have to rely on antennas or cable to receive the local stations. There’s no word as to when or if DirecTV might offer similar service.
DISH is not currently planning to offer WTAP’s MyNetwork station (My5) on satellite. But it could be added in the future.