DirecTV Must Carry Paxson Stations


Paxson Communications Corp. is entitled to require DirecTV Inc. to carry 36
stations in 31 markets under a decision released Tuesday by the Federal
Communications Commission.

The FCC, which arbitrates TV-station/direct-broadcast satellite carriage
disputes, gave DirecTV 60 days to carry the stations unless the DBS firm can
point to other FCC rules that would disqualify Paxson-owned stations from
mandatory carriage.

On Jan. 1, EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV were required to carry
all requesting local TV stations in markets where they carried any local TV
stations. TV stations had to elect must-carry by July 1, 2001.

In an eight-page decision, the FCC examined draft carriage agreements between
Paxson and DirecTV. Although DirecTV alleged that Paxson had elected to
negotiate carriage and waive its mandatory carriage rights, the FCC disagreed
and ordered DirecTV to commence carriage of Paxson's stations.

Under a prior agreement, DirecTV distributes Paxson's Pax TV network. As a
result of the FCC's decision, DirecTV now has to carry both the national feed
and the local station feeds of Pax TV in the 31 affected markets.

Paxson executive vice president and general counsel Tony Morrison said his
company hopes to negotiate a deal with DirecTV that may avoid duplicative
carriage in local markets.

'Anything is possible,' Morrison said. 'They're a partner here. It should be
a win-win for everybody.'

Several years ago, Paxson and EchoStar reached a deal in which EchoStar
agreed to carry the national feed of Paxson's Pax TV network and Paxson agreed
to waive its right to seek mandatory carriage of its owned-and-operated TV