EchoStar Taking Must-Carry to Supreme Court


EchoStar Communications Corp. is planning to ask the Supreme Court to review
a federal law requiring direct-broadcast satellite carriers to carry all local
TV stations in a served market.

'We're going to appeal to the Supreme Court. Hopefully, we are going to win
because it's a freedom-of-choice issue,' EchoStar chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen
said after testifying Wednesday before a Senate subcommittee on its merger with
Hughes Electronics Corp., parent of DirecTV Inc.

EchoStar and DirecTV have until Thursday to file an appeal, according to the
Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association.

DirecTV chairman and CEO Eddy Hartenstein was uncertain whether his company
would join Ergen.

'We are going to look at it and make a final decision by the deadline,'
Hartenstein said.

In December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the
TV-station-carriage law, which took effect Jan. 1.

Last week, EchoStar and DirecTV pledged to carry every eligible station in
every local TV market if their merger is approved.

Reacting to Ergen's court appeal, National Association of Broadcasters
spokesman Dennis Wharton said, 'This proves again that Charlie's promises often
ring hollow.'