EchoStar Spot-Beam Launch Approved


EchoStar Communications Corp. gained approval from the federal government
Wednesday to launch a spot-beam satellite that includes a transponder capable of
serving Mexico.

The Federal Communications Commission approved the new satellite, which
EchoStar intends to use to provide local TV signals in additional U.S. markets.
EchoStar currently serves 36 local TV markets.

Northpoint Technology Ltd. and the National Association of Broadcasters
questioned whether EchoStar's satellite should include a Mexico transponder
considering that EchoStar has complained about the lack of channel capacity to
serve all U.S. markets with local TV service.

EchoStar said it had to point one of 15 transponders over Mexico in order to
prevent harmful self-interference.

The direct-broadcast satellite firm said it decided to aim the transponder
over Mexico for possible use in that country, rather than leaving it unused.

The FCC said it would not require EchoStar to redesign the satellite. The
agency said DBS carriers are typically accorded flexibility in satellite design
and U.S.-based DBS carriers by treaty are permitted to serve Mexico with the
approval of the host government.

'For these reasons, we find that granting EchoStar's application is in the
public interest,' the FCC said in an order signed by Thomas S. Tycz, chief of
the Satellite and Radiocommunications Division in the International