ACS opens lines of communication

Posted: Monday, August 18, 2003

Beginning sometime between now and the end of the month, Kenai Peninsula viewers will be able to choose between satellite and cable television without having to worry about giving up Anchorage stations.

Dish Network announced last week it will begin offering Anchorage stations as part of its dish package. Previously, dish customers had to choose between satellite, which offers more channels, and cable, which offered Anchorage stations in addition to its cable channels.

In conjunction with the move, Alaska Communications Systems announced it will begin selling the Dish Network system to its customers along with long-distance telephone service and high-speed Internet access.

The two moves set the stage for a battle for the eyes (and pocketbooks) between ACS and the state's largest television company, General Communication Inc., which also offers Internet and long-distance service.

And according to an ACS spokesperson, that's exactly what the company is hoping for.

"It's an opportunity to maybe beat out the cable monopoly, which is GCI," Mary Ann Pease, ACS spokesperson, said Friday.

There is still one catch for customers hoping to catch their favorite network affiliates: not all the broadcast networks have signed on to the deal.

So far, five of seven broadcast networks have agreed to be carried by the Dish Network. But two, KTUU (NBC) and KIMO (ABC) have yet to agree to the deal.

Both Dish Network and ACS have been looking for a way to break into the local television market for several years, but only recently has Dish been able to come to an agreement with the stations.

Pease said Friday she believes the two remaining stations have a good chance of joining the others on Dish. She said the increased choice the new stations will offer is something that goes hand in hand with ACS's attempt to offer a comprehensive package of communication services.

"It's so in line with what we're trying to do with all our services," she said.

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