Dish wars: Satellite offers local channels

"I want my, I want my, I want my local TV" are not the lyrics Dire Straits sang so many years ago.

The irony of satellite TV has always been that you can get over 200 channels– and your MTV– but you can't catch any local news.

That just changed in Charlottesville. On August 26, Dish Network began offering local channels, and now viewers can tune into NBC 29, WHTJ Channel 41 for PBS, and the two new stations, WVAW for ABC and WCAV for CBS.

"We're really trying to roll them out as fast as possible," says Kelley Baca, Dish Network spokesperson. "We know it's an important part of watching TV to get local stations."

The other major satellite source, DirecTV, is taking another approach. "They've been doing it slowly but surely," says Greg, who's not allowed to provide his last name. He says the company has no plans at present to run local channels in this market, but is doing so in Richmond.

That's sort of a bummer for Neil Goldwein, who just moved to Barboursville and signed a one-year contract with DirecTV the end of July. "If I'd known that earlier, I might have made a different choice," he says.

With no cable available, Goldwein felt he had to go with DirecTV. The only other choice was rabbit ears, and– talk about your dire straits– "No one wants that option," he says.

Dish Network's advertising blitz, which includes full-page ads in the Daily Progress have sent the TV-news starved locals flocking into RadioShacks, which offer the service. "A big influx of people is coming in," says one employee of the electronics store.

For $29.99 a month, Dish Network offers over 60 channels. And unlike its competitor, "You don't have to sign up for a year," says Baca.

That's more salt in Goldwein's wound. Would he switch companies to get his local news fix when his contract with DirecTV is up?

"I might very well," he says.

Dish Network just started offering four local channels, the lack of which has been the bane of satellite-dish reception.