EchoStar Issues Warning in Court Brief


EchoStar Communications Corp. is likely to drop local TV stations if the
company can gain relief from mandatory carriage obligations in federal law, it
told the Supreme Court last week.

Last Thursday, EchoStar asked the Supreme Court to void a 1999 law that
requires direct-broadcast satellite carriage of all local TV stations in a
market where any local stations are carried.

EchoStar is attempting
to merge with DirecTV Inc. parent Hughes Electronics Corp.

If allowed to merge, the new company has promised to carry every local TV
station in all 210 local markets within two years.

But that promise depends on the outcome of the case.

If the high court tosses out the carriage requirement, 'The merged entity
does not intend to carry all channels in every market,' EchoStar said in a
footnote in the brief.

In December, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit said the DBS must-carry law was consistent with the First Amendment.