News

NAB Slams EchoStar's Second-Dish Move

1/04/2002 9:07 AM Eastern

Broadcasters want the federal government to stop EchoStar Communications
Corp. from requiring consumers in some markets to obtain second dishes to
receive all local TV stations.

The National Association of Broadcasters filed an emergency petition Friday
with the Federal Communications Commission, seeking a ruling that the
second-dish requirement is unlawful.

The trade group called the second-dish plan a gambit designed to relegate
some local TV stations to an 'inaccessible technological ghetto.'

The NAB's filing marked another battle in a long war between EchoStar and
local broadcasters. Most recently, the association announced its opposition to
EchoStar's bid to acquire DirecTV Inc. in $25.8 billion merger announced in
October.

In the 17-page filing, the NAB said FCC rules permit EchoStar to require
second dishes to receive all local TV signals in a market, but not to receive
only a few local TV signals.

Breaking up the local-TV-signals package to create the need for two dishes
violated FCC nondiscrimination rules, the NAB added.

On Jan. 1, EchoStar began offering all local TV stations in 36 markets,
charging $5.99 per month for the package.

The company said consumers in some markets -- which were not identified --
would need second dishes because multiple satellites would be employed to
deliver local TV stations.

EchoStar, consistent with FCC rules, said it would not charge consumers who
requested second dishes. Because DirecTV offers local stations from a single
satellite, its subscribers do not need second dishes in any local market.

The NAB told the FCC EchoStar's plan to provide free second dishes was
'dysfunctional,' claiming, 'Customers calling EchoStar and seeking information
about additional dishes are being put on hold interminably.'

EchoStar said it planned to respond to the NAB's filing.

Want to read more stories like this?
Get our Free Newsletter Here!