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Eliminating Commercials Lawsuit

This image provided by Dish Network shows a screen message of the AutoHop feature, that allows customers to skip over commercials. Broadcasters Fox, NBC and CBS sued Dish Network Corp. May 24, 2012, over the service. Dish, the nation's second-largest satellite TV provider, filed a suit of its own seeking a judicial all-clear for its ad-skipping technology. (AP Photo/Dish Network)

DISH TV customers in Lincoln and other parts of the state no longer have access to KHAS-TV in Hastings.

A dispute between DISH and the station's owner, Hoak Media, led to the station and 13 other local affiliates owned by Hoak to be pulled from DISH as of 5 p.m. Wednesday.

KHAS is considered the local NBC affiliate for Lincoln customers, meaning those customers can't get any NBC programming through DISH. It's unclear how many customers are affected.

In a news release, DISH said Hoak Media, the Dallas-based company that owns KHAS and 13 other TV stations, is demanding a more than 200 percent increase in what Dish pays for retransmission rights.

Hoak also wants DISH to eliminate its commercial-skipping technology called AutoHop.

"KHAS and Hoak don't respect customer control -- they are telling customers they must watch commercials," Dave Shull, senior vice president of programming for DISH, said in a news release. "Channel skipping has been around since the advent of the remote, and we think Hoak has taken an incredibly hostile stance toward their viewers."

In its release, DISH said Hoak has blocked its stations from DISH. KHAS disputes that, however.

In a statement signed by its general manager and posted on its website, the station said Hoak Media tried hard to negotiate a new deal with DISH and offered several extensions to keep programming on the air.

"DISH Network took our signal off their system nonetheless," the statement says. "We did not ask them to take our station off the system.

"It's important for you to understand that DISH Network profits by including broadcast stations such as ours in its lineup, and like any other businesses, it should pay fair market value, which amounts to only pennies a day per station, per subscriber, for the ability to resell our stations’ programming to you,” the statement said.

The KHAS statement made no mention of DISH's AutoHop, which, unlike other commercial-skipping devices, does not require the viewer to see any part of the commercials.

Last month, the major networks sued DISH over the device, and DISH countersued seeking a ruling that the device violates no laws.

KHAS said in its statement that it will continue to negotiate with DISH but has no idea when or if it will reach an agreement.

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Reach Matt Olberding at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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