Policy

NCTA Joins Gang-Up on EchoStar

10/21/2004 7:41 AM Eastern

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association is joining other trade groups in an effort to gang up on EchoStar Communications Corp. over provisions in new satellite legislation that are hostile to EchoStar’s interests.

The NCTA signed a letter Thursday addressed to every U.S. senator urging the passing of the legislation. EchoStar was left off the letter.

In addition to the NCTA, other signatories were the heads of the Motion Picture Association of America, DirecTV Group Inc., the National Religious Broadcasters, the National Association of Broadcasters and the major professional-sports leagues.

The letter included support for an eventual ban on EchoStar’s use of two dishes to receive local TV stations in dozens of markets. EchoStar is opposed to the provision, saying that it would cost the company $100 million.

The letter also omitted any reference to a Senate Commerce Committee-passed bill that would allow EchoStar to provide imported HD feeds of ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox to satellite subscribers who are considered digitally unserved, meaning that they can’t get the same high-resolution service from their local affiliates with an over-the-air antenna.

Congress has adjourned, but it is scheduled to return the week of Nov. 15 for a lame-duck session. If Congress fails to reauthorize the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act, about 2 million satellite subscribers would lose access to distant network signals after Dec. 31.