Dish, APTS Working On Noncom HD Signals Deal

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Representatives of DISH network and the Association of Public Television Stations said Wednesday that they expect to have a deal on carriage of noncom HD signals soon, and even indicated they had been working on getting the deal done by today (Oct. 8), though that did not materialize.

That was the message to Senators in a Communications Subcommittee hearing Wednesday on reathorizing the satellite compulsory license.

The FCC has set a timetable for phasing in HD carriage over the next four years, but APTS has worked out deals with cable, Verizon and DirecTV and have been pushing Dish to do the same.

Stanton Dodge, Dish executive vice president and general counsel, said he had been working almost daliy for the last couple of months on negotiating a deal. He said he was optimistic such a deal would be struck.

An accord will have to be concluded within the next several weeks to head off legislative action, as the reauthoirzation bill must be conferenced among four committees then voted on before the end of the year, or the compulsory license will sunset.

Lana Thompson, acting COO of APTS, agreed the parties were in the process of good faith negotiations, though she said there were still some stumbling blocks.

When asked by Communications Subcommittee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) whether she thought the subcommittee would need to dictate it, she said "not at this time," and reiterated her hope a deal was close to being done.

Dodge said that he thought there was a misconception about DISH's appreciation of the value of public broadcasting. He pointed out that Dish carries more public broadcasting stations than any other distributor in the country -- by virtue of carrying local TV stations in the most markets --181.

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