The federal government should turn over a satellite license to Cablevision
Systems Corp. as a condition of approving the merger between EchoStar
Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. parent Hughes Electronics Corp., the cable
company said last week.
Cablevision wants to take almost full control of a direct-broadcast satellite
orbital position it shares with EchoStar. Although Cablevision plans to launch a
satellite service in late 2003, the cable company said it can't provide robust
competition to EchoStar-DirecTV unless it can use nearly all available
frequencies at the satellite slot.
Cablevision said its proposal would not disrupt EchoStar subscribers if the
transfer occurred in an orderly transition.
The satellite in question is a so-called wing-slot bird that EchoStar uses to
provide international and niche services to a limited number of subscribers who
require second reception dishes, Cablevision said.
Cablevision did not indicate in the July 12 FCC letter whether it planned to
compensate EchoStar for the license or it wanted the FCC to require EchoStar to
transfer the frequencies to Cablevision at no cost.
With the additional spectrum, Cablevision has told the FCC its satellite
would be capable of serving 143 local TV markets, offering scores of national
and local programming channels and perhaps turning the company into a
cable-affiliated competitor to other cable incumbents around the