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DISH Network, WOWK-TV won't discuss blocked service

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- DISH Network customers in the Kanawha Valley haven't had access to WOWK-TV for more than a week, and neither the company nor the station would talk about the details Thursday.

An email from DISH Network sent to customers Wednesday blamed West Virginia Media -- which owns WOWK and several other state TV stations -- for blocking service.

The email said DISH Network renegotiates the fees it pays to local broadcasting stations every few years and that West Virginia Media was requesting more than a 200 percent rate increase.

"In light of the recent severe weather in your area, DISH offered to extend our previous agreement to avoid this disruption," the email read. "Unfortunately, West Virginia Media management flatly refused our multiple offers."

The phone lines at West Virginia Media were busy all day Thursday, and several representatives did not respond to emails from the Gazette.

WOWK General Manager Charlotte Cohen said Thursday she didn't want to comment on the situation.

A customer representative with DISH Network said the company is in contract negotiation and didn't have any updates about when clients might get the station back.

"Our contract doesn't allow us to go into any detail," said the representative, who would only provide his first name, Jeb.

The representative also said he couldn't transfer the call to a supervisor because no one else at the company was allowed to disclose more information than what was included in the email. Reach Alison Matas at alison.matas@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.


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