Dish Network subscribers in Southcentral Alaska came close to losing local news and other programming from Southcentral's local NBC affiliate on the satellite service. But a last minute agreement was reached late Thursday night that allowed KTUU to stay on the network without interruption.
In a press release dated Dec. 21, KTUU said, "Negotiations over retrainsmission fees paid by Dish Network to Schurz Communications, the parent company of KTUU-TV, had been ongoing for months and included other Schurz-operated stations in the Lower 48."
On Thursday afternoon, KTUU president and general manager Andrew MacLeod said that, without an agreement, KTUU was scheduled to be dropped from the Dish system at 8 p.m. on Thursday.
"Talks have been ongoing today but there have been no developments," he said.
Information from the Nielsen polling group shows that 17,000 households in the Anchorage Designated Marketing Area subscribe to Dish. That's 11.3 percent of the market, slightly less than the number of households that receive television as broadcast over the air.
Jason Gardener, owner of The Satellite Guy, which sells satellite television equipment, said the Anchorage DMA includes the Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak as well as rural areas north of the city.
"Hopefully there'll be a solution," he said on Thursday afternoon. "KTUU is by far the strongest local station in the Anchorage DMA. Their news is a very popular program."
The Dish network did not return calls from the Daily News. However, the company did run a full page ad on Thursday urging subscribers to call KTUU. "Your local NBC station wants you to pay for every commercial you skip," it read.
Those words seem to refer to "hopper" technology that lets viewers skip ads, said MacLeod.
"Hopper is not part of our negotiations," he said. "That matter is now in litigation and will be decided by the courts, not by us."
Reach Mike Dunham at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4332.
By MIKE DUNHAM