It's been almost eight years now since the tiny Denton County town of Clark took on a corporate sponsor and officially changed its name to DISH, Texas, after the satellite network. In return, the town's 55 homes got free cable service for 10 years, plus a DVR.
It must have seemed like a wonderful idea at the time. There was no opposition to speak of from residents, no agonized public debate over the further encroachment of corporations into American life. The proposal was unanimously approved by the city council, and residents happily installed their new satellite dishes.
Now, the New York Times reports in a profile of the town published last night, DISH residents aren't so sure the deal was worth it.
"It's not a very publicized item," Wester Draper, one of the town council's two members, told the Times. "You tell people you live in Dish, Texas, and they're like, 'Where's Dish, Texas?' Initially trying to get the service turned on, if you call them up and tell them you live in Dish and you get free TV, they don't believe you, the customer service agents."
And the free cable service isn't actually free, at least not if residents want anything beyond the basic package and equipment. The town's namesake, founder, and former mayor L.E. Clark, who apparently keeps a stack of Playboy magazines on his desk, pays $84 per month. Others pay less. Still more never signed up for free cable, preferring DirectTV.
The debate now is whether to extend the agreement with DISH once the 10-year agreement expires in 2015 or change the town's name back to Clark though, in light of fracking worries, the matter seems rather trivial.
Asked by the Times which scenario he preferred, 60-year-old DISH resident Buddy Kinney expressed indifference. "I wished Jack Daniel's would have looked us up."