Washington -- The U.S. Copyright Office last week agreed to
conduct a rulemaking that could potentially allow satellite carriers to serve local
markets with local TV signals.
The request for a rulemaking, made by EchoStar
Communications Corp., was opposed by local-TV-station interests concerned that satellite
carriers could provide the signals without must-carry or retransmission-consent
'We support local-into-local only if they are carrying
all of the signals in a market. That's the bottom line,' said Dennis Wharton,
spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters.
Because the Copyright Office is planning a 60-day comment
and reply-comment period, EchoStar won't get a decision until late March or early
April at the earliest.
If EchoStar wins approval, it would be able to provide
local network signals to dish owners, even if the dish owner could receive the same
signals via a conventional rooftop antenna.