Washington -- EchoStar Communications Corp. last week
repeated its call for rules barring the common ownership of cable and direct-broadcast
The Federal Communications Commission is considering such a
ban, but few parties filing comments with the agency backed EchoStar's position.
EchoStar told the FCC that the absence of such a ban would
allow PrimeStar Inc., the cable industry-backed DBS service, to acquire the last choice
high-power DBS slot. EchoStar maintained that PrimeStar would not compete for subscribers
in markets served by its cable owners.
In maintaining that a ban was necessary, EchoStar said,
"The [FCC] cannot legislate competitive zeal and compel PrimeStar to compete fiercely
against its shareholders."
PrimeStar, in its own comments to the FCC, said the
commission should reject ideas about a ban and review cable-DBS combinations on a
case-by-case basis to determine whether they would serve the public interest.
PrimeStar said assertions that it will be a complement to
cable, rather than a competitor, were "naked mischaracterizations" of the record
and contrary to promises that the company has made to the FCC about its use of the last
available high-power DBS orbital position.
"It will be packaged, positioned and marketed to
compete with all [multichannel-video-programming distributors]," PrimeStar said.