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EchoStar's 'two-dish' plan under attack
By Jon Newton,
(more articles from this author)
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Music Industry News - as it happens
Source: MusicDish/Mi2N - April 4, 2002

EchoStar Communications' "two-dish" plan, as implemented, violates both the Communications Act and the Commission's rules, The Media Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission says, ruling that EchoStar must come into compliance immediately and file a progress report within 30 days.

EchoStar argues that because it offers the second dish without charge, it complies with FCC "carry-one-carry-all" rules.

The FCC action was in response to a joint Emergency Petition from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Association of Local Television Stations (ALTV) asking for modification or clarification of the Commission's rules concerning carriage of local television broadcast stations by satellite carriers pursuant to the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999 (SHVIA).

NAB and ALTV asked the FCC to take prompt emergency action to address satellite carriage of certain local television broadcast stations, "in a manner that requires subscribers to obtain a second satellite dish antenna."

In most of the markets in which EchoStar offers local-into-local service, says the FCC, "EchoStar is carrying one or more of the local broadcast stations on a 'wing' satellite that necessitates subscriber use of a second satellite dish. The Media Bureau rejected EchoStar's argument that The Bureau noted that although it may be possible to offer certain local stations by use of a second antenna without engaging in prohibited discriminatory conduct, the Bureau found that EchoStar has not done so in this case."

The agency said it had ordered the company to come into compliance immediately and suggested several methods for doing so, including informing existing customers about the need for a second dish to receive all the local channels or putting all the local stations on the second dish. For new subscribers, EchoStar could comply by installing the second dish when they put in the first one as well as train its customer representatives and distributors about the need for the second antenna and how to obtain it.

The company said it has "already begun today to take steps to implement some of their suggestions" but EchoStar "continues to believe that its current method for implementing must carry complies with the law," said a Reuters/Variety April 7 item.

It added that as of January 2002, satellite television providers offering local channels in a market must carry all the local channels there, a "must carry" law EchoStar is challenging at the Supreme Court, as well as seeking approval from the FCC and antitrust authorities to acquire its larger satellite television rival, DirecTV, and that firm's owner Hughes Electronics for about $28 billion.

Related News from Mi2N:
» FCC Media Bureau Rules That Echostar's "Two-Dish" Plan Violates Law And FCC Rules

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