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WNCN-TV goes dark on Dish Network after agreement expires

WNCN-TV, Raleigh's NBC affiliate, is no longer being carried on Dish Network after an agreement between Dish and the station's parent company expired at midnight Monday.

Media General, WNCN's owner, said in a release Tuesday that it is working to reach a resolution with Dish that will allow programming to be restored.

"Media General has reached hundreds of fair, market-based agreements over many years with every other cable, satellite and telephone company that carries our stations on their Pay-TV systems," the company said in a statement. "Media General stations have never experienced a disruption of service with any Pay-TV company because of an impasse. On the other hand, local stations are blacked out on DISH more than on any other Pay-TV system."

Dish, on the other hand, said Media General remains "immovable in its demands" in a statement.

“They declined a contract extension, an offer from DISH to pay our competitors’ rates, and have now refused our willingness to match rates paid to other area broadcasters," said Sruta Vootukuru, Dish's director of programming.

"Media General is overreaching by trying to force DISH customers to pay more than their neighbors.”

Live streaming of WNCN news is available over the station's website, WNCN.com, and can be watched free over the air using an antenna.

13 days of free hockey on NHL Center Ice

Hockey is finally back. And all you puck fans not lucky enough to have tickets for this weekend's opening games still get a chance to catch all the NHL action with a free NHL CENTER ICE 13-day preview.

The free preview, which runs from January 19-31, is available for digital customers of Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and (as far as I can determine) Dish Network.

NHL Center Ice has up to 40 games a week across 14 channels, along with a bunch of extra content.

The season pass package is priced $49.99 for Time Warner Cable customers and $59.96 for DirecTV customers. The season runs through April 27, 2013.

Clear the calendar: Free Showtime weekend begins tomorrow

Clear your calendar and clean out the DVR: we're all getting free Showtime this weekend!

And by "we," I mean everyone with a digital subscription to Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, AT&T U-verse and Dish Network. The promotion runs Friday, January 11 through Sunday, January 13, and coincides with the Sunday season premieres of Showtime series "Shameless," "House of Lies" and "Californication." (For movie fans, "Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I" and "Iron Lady" with Meryl Streep also debut on the channel this weekend, and there's a slew of slightly older movies like "My Week with Marilyn," "50/50" and "The Help.")

It's also a great chance to watch as much "Dexter," "Homeland," "Nurse Jackie," "Episodes," "Weeds" and "The Big C" as you possibly can on Showtime On Demand. You can't record On Demand shows to watch later, so that means you may have to pull some all-nighters. You can also install and use the Showtime Anytime app, which you can use on iPad, iPhone, Android or a computer.

Of course, Showtime is hoping you'll like what you see enough to subscribe. For more information on the free preview weekend, go to Showtime's website.

How to Watch: NBC's multiplatform coverage of 2012 Summer Olympics

How can you watch the 2012 Summer Olympic games? Pretty much any way you want.

Much of the action will be available on good ole over-the-air NBC, but if you're really into the Olympic games, you've never needed a cable or satellite subscription quite so much. NBCUniversal is putting all of their muscle into the summer games, offering multiplatform coverage through collaborations with cable and satellite providers (meaning you'll also need those subscriptions to watch online). This way, NBC can deliver content over multiple television channels (both live and on-demand) as well as live streaming on NBC's Olympics website, on mobile devices and tablets.

The cable channels NBCUniversal brings to the table are NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus), MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo and Telemundo. In addition, there are two HD specialty channels featuring non-stop basketball and soccer, the NBCOlympics.com website, and NBC Olympics Live Extra apps for mobile phones and tablets.

Watching TV without cable or satellite

If you haven't seen it already, I have a piece in today's Connect section on different ways to watch TV without cable or satellite. I compare the pros and cons of options like Netflix and Hulu and iTunes and Amazon Instant, but the list isn't intended to be all inclusive. There are probably dozens of ways to pull this off (feel free to discuss in the comments). I just picked out some of the most popular sources and focused on how you might watch cable shows (like "Breaking Bad" or "Mad Men" or "White Collar") if you don't have cable or satellite. I'm aware there are some free options out there that aren't exactly legal. And I'm aware that you can just plug in your TV and watch and record over-the-air broadcast shows without anything special.

Er, except maybe a better TV antenna. 

Speaking of antennas, there are lots of them out there and apparently you can even build your own. But if you're interested in the Mohu Leaf antenna I mentioned, you can check out the Raleigh company's website or contact them online or by phone (919) 896-7696.

Canes-HD: This just in

Fox Sports Carolinas now says that Game 3 of the NHL playoff series between the New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes — and Game 6, if necessary — will be shown in high definition. The original television schedule had listed all of the games as being broadcast in standard definition, prompting numerous complaints from fans.

Game 3 will be 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the RBC Center and Game 6, if necessary, on Sunday April 26.

That means Time Warner Cable will show the game on channel 50 and in HD on channel 272. Dish and DirecTV subscribers will have to check on the alternate channels the two satellite providers will use. 

Canes channels ...

... for game at Ottawa at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday:

Time Warner Cable ch. 50, DirecTV ch. 645, Dish Network ch. 447 (none in HD) 

More Bobcats games on TV here

Charlotte Bobcats games previously available only on SportSouth outside the Triangle will now be shown by Time Warner Cable on digital channel 145 in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Fayetteville. The 16 remaining Bobcats games on the SportSouth schedule can be seen here even if there's a conflicting Carolina Hurricanes game.

Fox Sports Carolinas coverage of the Canes is shown on TWC channel 50 and, when available in high definition, such as Thursday night's home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, also on channel 272.

SportSouth is not available in the Raleigh area, but "we wanted to make sure that the Bobcats games were available wherever Fox Sports Carolinas is available," Fox Sports spokeswoman Kate Hart said.

The first Bobcats game to be shown in this area will be 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8, when Charlotte visits Miami.

The Canes next face the Rangers in New York at 7 p.m. Tuesday on TWC channel 50, Dish Network channel 446 and DirecTV channel 645/645-1.

 

Finding Canes on Dish ...

... is not exactly easy for subscribers of that satellite service. I've had a hard time finding out for sure which channel Dish uses for the live hockey games televised by FOX Sports Carolinas. A FOX rep told me that the Carolina Hurricanes' game tonight at 7:30 at Florida can be found by Dish subscribers on channel 444.

It's not even clear when you check Dish's web site for the channel listings, because FOX Sports Carolinas is not listed separately. A Raleigh subscriber tells me he just got off the phone following about a one-hour conversation with Dish customer service and found out that: a. you have to subscribe to the America's Top 100 Plus package or above from Dish to see the live Canes telecasts, and b. the Turbo HD package isn't enough.

Hello, Dish and Fox Sports Carolinas, how about getting together to make this a little more user-friendly?

If anyone knows more, please weigh in. 

Finding the Jets-Patriots game

As if you need to be reminded, Thursday night's NFL game between the New York Jets and New England Patriots is being televised only on the NFL Network, which means you can't watch it if you're a Time Warner Cable customer. Among your options: Go to a bar or find a friend who subscribes to one of the two satellite TV services, DirecTV or Dish Network; listen to the game on radio station 99.9 FM The Fan; or follow the game online via NFL.com's live "look-ins."

The NFL says fans can choose between two video streams. One stream alternates between the NFL Network’s game broadcast and its live studio show. The second video stream complements the first with a "sideline pass," showing alternative camera angles via live look-ins. NFL.com Live also will feature on-demand video, allowing fans to have access to game highlights throughout the broadcast.

TWC and the NFL don't appear to be budging from their positions — the league wants Time Warner to put its network on expanded basic cable, which is cheaper and reaches a much larger audience than a special sports tier. TWC says that, with only eight live games a year, the NFL Network's programming isn't worth the "tens of millions" of dollars the NFL is demanding. Time Warner is still willing to put the NFL Network on a more expensive sports digital tier "at terms that would be fair to our customers," spokeswoman Melissa Buscher says.

In October, FCC Media Bureau Chief Monica Shah Desai determined that the cable company Comcast had discriminated against the NFL Network and improperly demanded a financial interest in the network in exchange for carriage. The bureau chief refused to dismiss the NFL's complaint and ordered a hearing before an administrative law judge.

The NFL claims that Comcast moved the NFL Network from a digital basic tier to a premium sports tier after the league refused to grant rights to the eight live games to Comcast's Versus Network. In contrast, the NFL and Time Warner Cable never reached a deal.

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