Washington -- EchoStar Communications Corp. last week
accused an unnamed "major broadcasting group" of demanding $500 million in
exchange for the right to transmit the group's local signals to Dish Network
In a March 8 letter to the Federal Communications
Commission, EchoStar said the TV-station group wanted the $500 million for certain
"specialty programming," in addition to wanting a 10-cent per-month surcharge
for each EchoStar subscriber to each of the group's affiliated cable networks.
EchoStar told the FCC the demands were discriminatory and
anti-competitive, as well as in violation of a new satellite-competition law that requires
broadcasters to bargain with direct-broadcast satellite operators in good faith.
"By its demands, the group seeks to impose draconian
economic conditions on EchoStar, while at the same time, it extends its retransmission
consent to cable operators on a far more favorable basis without an apparent competitive
justification," EchoStar told the FCC.
EchoStar director of government relations Karen Watson said
her company declined to name the broadcaster as "a gesture in good faith."
The FCC is close to concluding a rulemaking ordered by
Congress to define good-faith bargaining by TV stations. In a previous FCC letter,
EchoStar said some TV stations were demanding 50 cents per month, per subscriber for
Dish currently has 3.4 million subscribers.