More choices for TV watchers |

More choices for TV watchers

The world of television just got smaller for Lake Tahoe.

Satellite service from DISH Network began receiving Reno-area local stations last week, offering a bit of a rosy business picture to South Shore purveyors such as Sierra Communication Systems and Frank’s TV & Electronics.

“People who have wanted satellite TV a long time have kept their basic cable (service) for network stations,” said Frank Giardini, owner and operator of Frank’s TV.

Since the DISH Network began the uplink of Reno as one in 45 designated market areas, satellite television viewers may receive regional news. Viewers used to pick up Los Angeles-area stations. The new options include KNPB (PBS), KOLO (ABC), KTVN (CBS), KRNV (NBC), KRXI and KTVU (Fox), along with the onslaught of other pay-per-view programming and movie channels.

Current users — paying a range from $22 to $75 a month — may upgrade their satellite service for an additional $5.99.

EchoStar Communications, the Littleton, Colo.-based parent company of the DISH Network, plans to go head-to-head in competition with the cable companies, spokesman Marc Lumpkin said.

“People have come in here not happy with what they have and are just trying to find alternatives,” Mike Foster of Sierra Communication said, adding other common complaints from Charter Communications’ 19,000 Lake Tahoe subscribers are rising rates and disappearing programming.

Marsha Berkbigler, Charter government relations spokeswoman, said the cable operator is not particularly worried about the level of competition.

“Satellite dishes have been competitive with us for years. We’re hard-wired and not subject to the elements,” she said.

Some Lake Tahoe residents have asked Charter for access to Bay Area stations for news in lieu of Reno’s.

“The lake has always been a problem for us. Historically, they’ve been angry with us for not offering programming in San Francisco (not Reno) because the subscribers have always had a connection to California news,” she said.

Berkbigler also cited the high-speed Internet service as another reason telecommunications users stick with cable.

But the competition may get more heated by the end of the year.

EchoStar Communications intends to buy DirectTV out of Los Angeles, opening up the Internet service via satellite to Tahoe users.

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