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Welcome to Dish, Texas

The tiny town of Clark, Texas -- population 125 -- has taken up EchoStar Communications Corp. on its offer, officials said Wednesday.

The hamlet will legally change its name to “Dish” in exchange for each of its 55 households receiving 10 years of free basic programming from Dish Network, EchoStar’s direct-broadcast satellite service. The offer, which kicks off Wednesday includes equipment such as a digital-video-recorder receiver, and installation.

Clark, incorporated as a town in 2000, is located 25 miles north of Fort Worth, Texas. The Clark Town Commission, which has two members, voted to rename the town Dish Tuesday night at a crowded town meeting.

Dish Mayor Bill Merritt said any new residents coming to live in the city will also get the free Dish Network service, and he hopes the offer will help to attract new residents during the next decade.

“We really look at this as sort of a rebirth for our community and something we hope we can put out there to attract new businesses, new people and really put our name on the map and get folks get to know what Dish, Texas, is,” Merritt, a real estate developer, said.

The town, which isn’t serviced by cable, is in a rural agricultural and ranching area. Dish -- which has two stop signs but no stop lights -- also serves as a bedroom community for commuters who work in Dallas

Under terms of its agreement, Dish Network has agreed to provide every household within the city limits with its “America’s Top 60” programming package for 10 years, along with free standard installation and a free DVR receiver.

In exchange, the town will legally change its name and change all of its signage -- about one-dozen signs -- to reflect the new moniker.

EchoStar believes Dish’s resident will become “evangelists” for satellite TV, according to president Michael Neuman. He noted that since Merritt was elected six months ago, he has reduced local taxes by 34%.

Since Dish Network stresses many channel for low prices, “it seemed like a great spiritual fit between own company and the town of Clark,” Neuman said. “This becomes, in some respects, our galactic headquarters.”

Dish Network was in negotiations with several cities about its offer, and it ultimately came down to Clark, which was named after the town’s founder, and one other city, according to Neuman.

Dish Network will unveil the “Dish City Makeover” as part of a rebranding effort and a new ad campaign with the tag line, “Better TV for All.”

Dish Network officials said the cost of its service over 10 years per home is about $4,500.

Merritt said a Clark resident told him about Dish Network’s offer in August, and he followed up and contacted the company about it.