EchoStar Communications Corp. said last week that it has
replaced its distant-network-signal distributor, PrimeTime 24, with its own new
"DishNets" package, which includes broadcast channels from New York and Los
An EchoStar spokesman said the move was, in part, a
response to the legal problems surrounding PT24, which was hit with a temporary injunction
earlier this month that prohibits it from sending its service to households already served
by local-broadcast signals.
PT24 president and CEO Tom Casey would not comment on
EchoStar's decision to replace the service. He added that PT24 intends to fully
comply with the temporary injunction handed down by the U.S. District Court in Miami. At
press time, Casey expected the case to go to trial in mid-August.
PT24's direct-broadcast satellite customers -- DirecTv
Inc. and EchoStar -- were not directly implicated in the lawsuit against PT24. In response
to the injunction against PT24, DirecTv has temporarily halted any new sales of the PT24
services, pending a review of compliance requirements. But early last week, a DirecTv
spokesman said the company has not considered replacing PT24 with another
Netlink supplies distant-network signals for PrimeStar
Inc., and it is not connected to the PT24 lawsuit. According to published reports, Netlink
and PrimeStar have reached an agreement with the National Association of Broadcasters not
to send distant-network signals to served households. A PrimeStar spokesman declined to
PT24's legal battles were just one consideration in
the switch. According to the EchoStar spokesman, the company believes that the New York-
and Los Angeles-based network feeds will better appeal to its subscribers. PT24 had
delivered a mix of East and West Coast affiliates from different markets.
EchoStar will prequalify new DishNets customers by ZIP code
and ask whether the potential subscribers have had cable within the past 90 days.
Customers outside of a qualifying ZIP code may also ask for broadcast-signal tests from
EchoStar or seek written consent from their local-network affiliates, the company said in
a press release.
Dish Network installers can also hook up a rooftop antenna
for customers who can receive a so-called grade-B-intensity off-air signal.
DishNets' New York feeds are WABC, WCBS, WNBC and
FOX-WNYW. The Los Angeles feeds are KABC, KCBS, KNBC and FOX-KTTV. Both packages offer the
national Public Broadcasting Service feed.
The New York and Los Angeles feeds will also be used for
EchoStar's local-into-local service. Until the government gives EchoStar the go-ahead
to serve all subscribers within a given DMA, EchoStar is restricting the sale of those
services to viewers within the given market who cannot receive acceptable off-air signals
and who have not received cable within the past 90 days.
The DishNets packages are priced at $4.99 per month for
East or West Coast and $7.99 for both coasts. For $9.99, the company will also throw in