A technician installs a satellite dish in Littleton, Colo. DISH Network now offers most local Hawaii channels and is making a push in the islands.

DISH satellite TV
adds most local
stations to service

Cable comparison

Starting today, Hawaii subscribers to satellite TV provider DISH Network will for the first time be able to pick up most local television stations.

Subscribers can pay $4.99 a month on top of monthly subscription fees of between $27 and $36 to pick up the signals of ABC affiliate KITV, CBS affiliate KGMB, NBC affiliate KHNL, PBS affiliate KHET, UPN affiliate KFVE and independent stations KBFD, KIKU and KWHE. Fox-affiliate KHON is not available.

"We have been unable to reach a reasonable retransmission consent agreement with them," DISH Communications Manager Marc Lumpkin said.

Negotiations of such agreements take place at the corporate level, as in the case of KHNL and KFVE, both owned by Alabama-based Raycom Media Inc. The parent company's umbrella agreement with DISH will put the two Honolulu stations on the satellite, according to John Fink, the stations' vice president and general manager.

Officials from KPXO channel 66, affiliated with Pax TV, were contacted by DISH a couple months ago, but also have not reached an agreement.

DISH hardware and accessories for purchase or lease are carried by Costco, Radio Shack, Sears, Wal-Mart and some 40 independent retailers statewide.

The satellite TV provider has offered small-dish service in Hawaii for three years but its appeal was hampered by its inability to carry local stations' signals to the islands until the launch of its geosynchronous EchoStar VII satellite in February. Parent company EchoStar Communications first entered the market with large satellite receivers in 1980.

Adding the local stations gives DISH a better chance of competing for market share against the dominant Oceanic Cable, Lumpkin said.

According to both Nielsen Media Research and DISH estimates, of the almost 400,000 television households in Hawaii, nearly 90 percent are cable subscribers while 5 percent receive broadcast TV signals via antennae. DISH and Nielsen differ on the percentage of subscribers to "alternate delivery systems," such as satellites. DISH's numbers state that fewer than 3 percent, or 10,300, are subscribers to both DISH Network and DirecTV in the islands. Nielsen estimates alternate delivery subscribers at 5 percent.

DirecTV does not carry local stations. DISH, owned by EchoStar, and DirecTV, owned by Hughes Electronics, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors Corp., are awaiting approval of a proposed merger from both the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission. Lumpkin said company officials are hoping for the regulatory green light by late fall.

Oceanic is owned by New York-based AOL-Time Warner Inc., while Oahu's other cable provider is Craig Wireless Honolulu Inc., owned by Canada-based Craig Broadcast Systems Inc.

"You're always interested with a competitor's unique selling proposition," said Oceanic President Nate Smith, but added, "I don't think the competitive landscape has changed for us."

Oceanic's overall product offering is superior, he said.

"I guess it's like three airlines competing and one airline has just added a plane with a few more seats. It still doesn't have as many seats as the two competitors," Smith said.

Craig Wireless has undergone restructuring since its purchase from Verizon Americast a year ago.

"We've had a lot of changes," Hawaii General Manager Derek Sakaguchi said, involving its subscriber management and accounting systems as well as cutting staff.

"From December until now we've not done any marketing," he said, "but in the near future we'll be starting to advertise again (offering) different promotions."

Pending approval of its proposed merger, DISH parent company EchoStar plans to offer high-speed Internet service via satellite.


Basic Digital TV service

Oceanic Cable Craig Wireless DISH Network

Monthly price $33.99 $41.95 36.99*

Channels 71 80 100

Set top box /mo. $3.70 1 free Varies

Installation $43 Free** $49.99

* Plus $4.99 for local stations.
** Up to two outlets through June 30.
Service plans and fees vary widely. Further rate details may be reviewed on each company's Web site:, or

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached

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