New York -- DirecTV Inc. president Eddy Hartenstein voiced
public support for local-to-local broadcast network signal delivery for the first time
last week, following EchoStar Communications Corp.'s lead in pushing for local-to-local
DirecTV had all but dismissed the viability of
satellite-delivered local signals, backing instead the use of off-air antennas. But
Hartenstein said DirecTV's pending deal to buy 11 high-power DBS transponders at 119
degrees West Longitude from PrimeStar Inc. will provide the bandwidth to retransmit local
signals in a limited number of markets, once Congress makes it legal.
Congress returns this week poised to complete work on such
legislation. The House Commerce and Judiciary Committees have approved bills, but
remaining areas of dispute must be resolved before a unified bill goes to the full House.
"There are still a few kinks to iron out, but we are
hopeful about having legislation on the House floor within 30 days," said Ken
Johnson, spokesman for Telecommunications subcommittee chairman Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.).