Foreign TV via Dish?
November 22, 2005 12:25 AM   Subscribe

Anyone have any experience with Dish Network's International selection?

I watch virtually no TV at home, I dislike general cable (glutted as it is with infomercials). But I could really warm to the idea of watching Russian, German, French (or whatever) broadcasting. Nice way to passively polish those ol' language skills.

Frankly, their website confuses the bejabbers out of me. Not sure what I have to do. Don't know if these are separate packages, or do I have to pony up for a large tier of unwanted basic channels as well.

I'd love to hear from anyone who's been through this.
posted by RavinDave to Technology (7 answers total)
 
If you think the Website is confusing, wait till you get to talk to their service reps. (I think you have to sign up over the phone.) When I spoke with "Sean," his south Asian accent was so thick I had to make him repeat everything twice. He insisted he was in Brooklyn. Later, I spoke with "Lawrence," who had a similar accent. Their technical support does seem to be local, thank god.

Anyway, I did have their Great Wall package while the in-laws were visiting from Beijing. It was a bargain compared to Comcast cable's Chinese offering. Comcast's Zhing Tian was two Chinese language channels for $15/mo, while Dish's Great Wall is fourteen, for $30. GW includes all the relatives' favorite CCTV channels.

If you want any of the Dish international packages, get it when you first sign up, because they are on a different satellite from the regular programs, and require a second antenna. If you use one of the free-installation deals, the second dish is included; if you get it later, you'll probably have to pay for the installation. When the in-laws returned to China, I cancelled the Great Wall, but they let me keep the dish, so I can still watch the CCTV English-language channel which is free.

Overall, I am satisfied with Dish. It's significantly cheaper than Comcast, and the picture is excellent.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:07 AM on November 22, 2005


Very interesting.

I did call support -- right before posting here. Had the same experience. And Asian sounding gentleman with an odd verbal mix of formal expressions peppered with some idioms that sounded just a tad bit out of place. Very courteous, but he was pressuring me to go for the big ticket stuff more than answering my very specific questions.
posted by RavinDave at 4:43 AM on November 22, 2005


One of the tech support people confirmed that Dish has a service office in India. I think she said Bombay, but don't remember for sure.

Some other peculiarities:
The free installation included a receiver that sends separate signal to two TVs (over cables in the house). One signal is controlled by an infrared remote that must be in the room with the receiver. The other signal is controlled by a shortwave radio signal from a second remote.

I have to have a phone line hooked up to the receiver, supposedly so it can update the program guide. If the phone line is not connected, I'm charged $5 a month.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:08 AM on November 22, 2005


RavinDave: According to the International Packages page on the dish site, "Customers who do not subscribe to DISH Latino, DISH Latino Dos, DISH Latino Max, America’s Top 60, America’s Top 120 or America’s Top 180 programming will be charged a $5.00 per month Service Access Fee." So yeah, they'll hit you with an extra charge if you only subscribe to the international package.

Kirth Gerson: The program guide is transmitted over satellite. The phone line is used to phone home when you watch the pay-per-view channels. Also, I haven't had a phone line hooked up for over a year and am not being charged $5 because of this.
posted by SteveInMaine at 5:36 AM on November 22, 2005


Thanks for pointing that out, Steve ... they sorta hide it in a light font. I had to highlight it to read it.
posted by RavinDave at 5:50 AM on November 22, 2005


Steve, one of the techs volunteered that the phone line "isn't just for pay-per-view" even though I didn't know enough to suggest that it was. And when I rearranged the furniture in the room where the receiver is, and neglected to fully re-engage the phone connector, I started to get messages on screen saying, "To avoid a $5 per month charge, connect a phone line to the receiver." In other words, they knew the line was disconnected, even though I didn't.

You have to pin them down on those $5 service fees, too. My introductory package included HBO, etc. for six months, and when I cancelled that part of it (on one of the two days that one service guy insisted were the only times I could), I had to argue out of paying a $5 change of service charge. (And it turned out later that they didn't actually cancel the premium channels.)
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:55 AM on November 22, 2005


I tried to add the Armenian package to my Dish. We were supposed to upgrade to a different Dish that was too big for the side of my house. Hence, no Armenian for me.
posted by k8t at 1:09 PM on November 22, 2005


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