According to a Wall Street Journal article, it would cost DISH Network $100 million to beam local television signals into twenty-nine U.S. markets it currently doesn’t serve. There are currently 210 designated television markets throughout the country. DISH Executive Vice President Stanton Dodge said “unserved markets are sparsely populated, making it difficult for satellite providers to justify a business case for offering service.” DISH Network’s main competition DirecTV currently operates in 152 markets and one of their senior executives said that it would cost roughly $2 million to expand service into each unserved market. While both DISH Network and DirecTV are in talks with Congress, both will most likely be unwilling to foot the majority of cost.
While federal law allows satellite providers to to bring certain broadcast networks to their rural subscribers, if the economics don’t pan out, those subscribers will be up a creek without a paddle. To be honest, they could care less if you live in Nowhereville, VA or Farmland, IA, if the numbers don’t add up to a profit, you’re not getting your shows. That’s the way entertainment works. Either deal with it or move to a more urban area. Sure it would be a feel good story if DISH Network operated at a loss just for the twenty-nine markets, but that’s not how our world operates anymore. It’s all about me first and what will it make/cost me to do so. I know if I were hungry, I wouldn’t drive two hours to the In-N-Out when there’s a Mcdonalds right down the road.
As bureaucratic as this might seem, satellite providers need to watch out for themselves as well. Otherwise, there’s no telling where this will end. People in who live up in Alaska with the polar bears will be asking to get the Food Network in HD and will be pissed when they find out they won’t be receiving it. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
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