EchoStar's 'two-dish' plan under attack
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
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.
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