Augusta-area Dish Network customers could lose local NBC station

Augusta-area Dish Net–work customers could lose access to the local NBC affiliate if the company can’t come to an agreement with Indiana-based Shurz Communications Inc.

Shurz, which owns WAGT -TV (Channel 26) in Augusta, is demanding “a rate increase to more than five times what Dish pays under its current contract,” according to a Dish news release.

Dish says the sticking point in negotiations is over fees for AutoHop, a customer-enabled commercial-skipping technology found on the company’s Hopper DVRs.

“Dish has been unable to reach an agreement with Schurz Communications because Schurz is demanding that Dish pay a significant penalty for allowing our customers access to AutoHop,” Dave Shull, Dish’s senior vice president of programming, said in the release.

Marcy Burdick, Shurz’s senior vice president for broadcast and cable, called the claim a “categorical falsehood.”

“We have never discussed AutoHop in our weeks of negotiations,” Burdick said. She said Shurz is seeking the same contract terms with Dish that it has with other cable carriers in the Augusta area.

“Shurz has reached hundreds of agreements with carriers large and small and has never had a station go off the air,” she said.

Burdick said WAGT will remain available through other cable carriers.

WAGT also broadcasts a digital signal that is available free to those with digital antennas.

Dish spokesman John Hall said negotiations with Shurz were still under way. He could not disclose when WAGT would be removed from the carrier’s lineup or how many customers would be affected.

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