DISH Network subscribers no longer have access to KPAX-TV programming as of noon Thursday.

KPAX-TV's General Manager Bob Hermes said the move is part of annual contract negotiations with the entertainment network.

"We have an agreement with Charter Cable and DIRECTV, so this is the end of our current agreement with DISH and the beginning of a new agreement," Hermes said. "The discussions center around reimbursement for subscribers on their system. We can't give out proprietary information about what the current rate is, but they would reimburse us for our signal and we pay CBS and CW for their signals that we carry. So, because they resell their carriage to their customers, they reimburse us for that carriage."

Since the contract with DISH ran out at noon on Thursday, and negotiations were unsuccessful, Hermes said viewers can still receive the KPAX signal in other ways.

"They can get us free over the air with an antenna, or they can get it through another provider such as DIRECTV or Charter. Viewers can call DISH Network," he said.

KGVO News received a press release from Cordillera Communications, the parent company of KPAX-TV, which stated the following:

"Cordillera Communications, owner of network affiliated TV stations in mid-to-small markets across the country, announced that its stations have gone dark on Dish Network as of this afternoon. The contract impasse follows months of negotiations over carriage terms, including the fee the satellite company must pay Cordillera to retransmit its signals. “Unfortunately, Dish Network has refused to reach a fair, market-based agreement with Cordillera even as we offer terms similar to those of existing agreements with every other cable and satellite provider,” said Terrance Hurley, President of Cordillera Communications. “Dish believes it is entitled to significantly better terms than its peers and has a consistent record of disputes with broadcasters. In fact, in 2015 alone, Dish forced blackouts that affected more than half of the 210 television markets in America.”

“Dish may not recognize the value of our market-leading TV stations, but its subscribers do. Viewers depend on our local news and weather coverage, demand our top-rated network and syndicated programming, and support these local stations that in turn support their local communities,” said Hurley. “We remain committed to working tirelessly to negotiate a new agreement with Dish Network and sincerely apologize to our viewers who are impacted by this business dispute.”

About Retransmission Consent: Since 1992, under Federal law, cable and satellite providers must obtain broadcaster consent to redistribute broadcast programming over their multichannel distribution systems. The law prohibits cable operators and satellite companies from carrying broadcast stations without entering into an agreement to do so, and other business contracts prohibit satellite and cable providers from carrying replacement network and syndicated programming from sources outside of your market area. This “retransmission consent” requirement was put in place by Congress to protect local broadcasters and to insure that the substantial local news and public service efforts of local broadcasters are maintained for the public good. Broadcasters and the satellite and cable providers that carry them negotiate new retransmission consent agreements every few years that generally include a programming fee, among other provisions. Dish Network subscribers are urged to call Dish at 1-800-333-DISH to request Dish return Cordillera stations to its lineup in these markets and provide compensation for content not provided during the blackout.

Cordillera also operates television stations in Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Helena and Butte.

KGVO News contacted DISH Network's customer service department, and were told that the local station is 'being a little greedy' in wanting more money to have DISH Network air their signal, and that eventually, the entities will work out an agreement. Until then, the DISH Network message on channel 8 (KPAX-TX) states "Sorry for the interruption of service, there is no need to call us. We are aware that this TV station is temporarily unavailable, and we will have this channel back as quickly as possible."