Unavailable satellite channels has senior upset with provider

As advertised?

Posted: Friday, October 27, 2006

Lew Buck feels cheated.

The 72-year-old Soldotna resident signed up for the America’s Top 120 TV package from DISH Network and is only getting about 80 channels.

Buck is not unlike most Alaskans and Hawaiians and Puerto Ricans, according to DISH Network representatives he has contacted.

People who want to get more television channels than their rooftop antenna or cable TV service bring in need to reach out into space and bring programming from satellites orbiting the Earth.

That, of course, requires installing a satellite dish in order to fetch the signals and route them into the home’s television receiver.

In Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, however, one of the two orbiting satellites — Sat 110 — is not in the right position for residents to pick up everything that’s out there.

“They don’t tell you that,” said Buck about advertising offers from DISH Network.

“I took the 120 package for $44.95 a month with local channels and I get 80 out of 120 channels,” Buck said. “I called Direct TV and they said they knew.

“They’re cheating us and they’re not telling us,” he said.

“On their Web site it does say Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Alaska may not get all the programming,” Buck said.

He was mad, so he called the Federal Communications Commission, and they told him they don’t handle that.

He called the Attorney General’s office in Anchorage and was referred to assistant Clyde “Ed” Sniffen Jr.

“He told me he is surprised they’ve only gotten 10 calls about this and suggested I get a private attorney and sue (DISH Network),” Buck said.

He said he contracted for the satellite TV service through the Radio Shack store in Kenai and had the satellite dish installed for $500.

On Thursday, a Radio Shack sales representative in Soldotna said right now, the company is offering an Alaska promotion $50 rebate for people who sign up for DISH Network.

For $130, customers get a one-meter dish, up to four receivers hooked up free, America’s Top 60 plus local channels for $35 per month and they have to purchase a device called an LNB, which is the eye of the dish for $50.

Installation costs extra, between $225 and $350, depending on what’s involved.

A DISH Network customer service representative said the Top 60 package includes such channels as TNT, TBS, USA, HDTV, ESPN, ESPN2, CNN, the Food Channel and the Discovery Channel.

The Top 120 package also includes PAX, BRAVO, MSNBC, American Movie Classics and Family Movie Classics. For additional charges, customers can receive HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, STARZ and other movie channels, the representative said. HBO costs $14.99 and the others cost $11.99.

In Alaska, customers receive between 80 and 90 channels if they sign up for the 120 package and 40 channels if they sign up for 60.

Alaskans also receive a reduced number of the movie channels offered. For instance, HBO has eight channels and Alaskans can only get six. Cinemax has five channels and Alaskans get three.

“I have Encore, and I get one,” said Buck. “I’m supposed to get six.”

Attorney Sniffen could not be contacted for this article and a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office, Mark Morones, said, “I can neither confirm not deny if such an investigation is going on.

“If there’s something that might be connected to an investigation, we’re prohibited by law from commenting,” he said.

“What I pushed DISH Network for was to everybody in Alaska and Hawaii a fair deal,” said Buck.

“Everybody in Alaska is getting cheated.”

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek @peninsulaclarion.com.

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