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Wilmington Dish TV Customers Blocked from Two Local Stations

Cape Fear-area customers of Dish satellite TV service are without two local stations because of a dispute between the satellite network and Raycom Media. As of this morning, Raycom has blocked access to its NBC affiliated channel, WECT TV6, and its FOX Channel, WFSX Fox 26, due to a price dispute with Dish. But local TV stations do not foresee drastic changes in viewership to result from the block.

This is the latest in a series of confrontations between station owners and satellite and cable providers. Scott Pickey, news director at WWAY News Channel 3, says this restricted access to his station’s biggest news competitors is unlikely to be the case for long.

"Retransmission agreements between station groups and cable groups are happening more often these days; we have one with Dish actually coming up in September. So most of these work themselves out pretty quickly; I really don’t think it will affect the market that much. I truly think this is just a blip on the radar."

Gary McNair, vice president and general manager of WECT-TV, says his station does not stand to suffer debilitating loss, as the negotiation process between TV networks and media conglomerates is typically quick.

"They're the smallest of the providers in this market--I think it's about somewhere between eight and nine percent of the households. Once a disruption starts, it accelerates the process that'll last anywhere from hours to a few days. I haven't heard of many going beyond two weeks."

Representatives from DISH say the TV service has offered to pay Raycom the same rates as its primary local competitors.