May 3, 2012 - By Joshua Scheer, Staff WriterAfter four months of on-and-off negotiations, DISH Network and several Casper-based broadcasting companies have come to an agreement over service to Fremont County television viewers and others.
The cable service provider announced in a news release Tuesday evening that "multi-year retransmission consent agreements" were reached with Wyomedia Corp., Silverton Broadcasting and Mark III Media.
A Riverton business owner who sells DISH service spread the word Wednesday that the channels were available again.
"Locals are back on as of 9:30 a.m. May 2," Porter's Mountain View Supply co-owner Lennie Kosirog said. "The lockout is over."
Since Jan. 1, when a three-year agreement expired, DISH customers lost access to KTWO (ABC), KFNB (FOX) and KGWC (CBS). In Cheyenne, the satellite users also lost KLWY-DT2 and KLWY.
After less than a week, some locals reported cancelling their DISH service.
"Puzzlement," Kosirog said, was the prevailing reaction from customers. "People want to know why they can't watch what they want."
He said any sales he might have lost due to the lack of the Casper stations "are all temporary."
Mark Nalbone, owner of Mark III Media and lead negotiator on behalf of the broadcasting companies, found it difficult to see the logic behind many of the discussions.
"The whole process mystified me," he said, noting "long periods of time" without any contact.
The agreement reached Tuesday night came about within a 24-hour period, Nalbone said.
"Eventually we just found we were better off together than apart," he said.
In January, Nalbone said he and the other stations were seeking "about 1 percent of the average subscriber's bill."
Fairsatellite.com, a website run by DISH, called the companies' demands for a 200 percent rate increase "outrageous."
Nalbone said that because customers purchased DISH service, it was the satellite company's responsibility to live up to its contracts with customers.
"I've always said we're free," he said, noting antennas can be used to pick up the Casper stations.
However, he added, "I accept responsibility for being part of the process that failed."
"Glad it's over," he said. "Sorry it took so long."
While in a follow-up e-mail a DISH spokesperson declined to comment on the length of the agreement, Nalbone said the time frame is "exactly between two and four years."
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed by Nalbone or DISH.
"DISH Network is pleased to announce these new agreements," DISH vice president of programming Andrew LeCuyer said in the news release. "We are most pleased on behalf of DISH customers in Wyoming."
The company spokesperson said DISH customers' rates would not be affected by the agreement.
Since the blocking of the stations occurred, DISH has declined to comment on how many customers were without the channels.
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