Ergen Offers NAB Two-Dish Deal

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Charlie Ergen has a proposal for the National Association of Broadcasters.

In a letter Tuesday to the NAB’s president, Ergen, chairman and CEO of EchoStar Communications Corp., agreed to end his two-dish policy in dozens of markets if broadcasters agreed to return their analog spectrum on the same day.

“Broadcasters need to fulfill their pledge to the American consumer and Congress by returning the valuable analog spectrum. EchoStar will voluntarily convert its two-dish local markets to a single dish at the same time,” Ergen said in the two-page letter to Edward Fritts.

EchoStar, a satellite-TV provider with 9.7 million subscribers, requires consumers in 38 markets to use two dishes in order to receive all of their local broadcast signals -- a policy that the NAB said is discriminatory and illegal (since so few consumers obtain second dishes that the company provides free-of-charge).

When the Federal Communications Commission refused to endorse the NAB’s position, the trade group turned to Congress. A pending House bill would force EchoStar to implement a one-dish policy within one year of enactment.

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