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Local Dish Network subscribers lose channels 4, 11 due to contract disagreement

A contractual disagreement between Dish Network and Hoak Media, which owns the local NBC and CBS affiliates in Fargo, has left some local subscribers in the dark.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, retransmission negotiations ended between Hoak and Dish Network, resulting in the signals for Channel 11, NBC-affiliate KVLY, and Channel 4, CBS-affiliate KXJB, being pulled for local subscribers.

Dish Network spokesman Aaron Johnson said Wednesday the blame lay with Hoak for cutting off negotiations.

At issue, he said, is that Hoak has asked Dish to quit offering a commercial-skipping DVR feature for network TV called the Hopper.

Johnson also said Hoak has asked for a 200 percent rate increase from Dish to continue to broadcast the KVLY/KXJB signals.

However, Jim Wareham, president/general manager of KVLY/KXJB, disputed those claims.

Wareham, reached at home on Wednesday evening, said the Hopper had no role in negotiations being cut off.

"That has nothing to do with our negotiations," he said.

Wareham also said the 200 percent figure cited by Dish was incorrect. Rather, the main issues in the disagreement, he said, simply had more to do with contractual language.

Wareham said Hoak offered Dish an extension so the two parties could continue to negotiate without an interruption of programming, but Dish turned it down.

"Tonight, it was Dish's decision to take us down at 5 even though we offered them an extension," Wareham said.

Johnson declined to specify how many Dish subscribers there are in the Fargo-Moorhead TV market, calling the information "business sensitive."

Hoak Media, based in Dallas, operates stations in nine different U.S. markets, and the contract dispute has taken channels off of Dish's lineup in all of those markets.

Until negotiations between Hoak and Dish are resumed, Wareham said local subscribers can hook up an over-the-air antenna to their TV in order to receive KVLY and KXJB programming.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535