Ergen Ready to Cut TV Carriage Deals


EchoStar Communications Corp. is ready to sign carriage deals immediately
with nearly all local TV stations in the country, the company said in a recent

Chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen said executives from his company will attend
next week's National Association of Broadcasters' convention in Las Vegas, and
they will be prepared to 'finalize and sign carriage agreements' with local TV

Ergen made his commitment in a March 31 letter that was sent to all 1,309
commercial TV stations except home shopping stations, EchoStar spokesman Marc
Lumpkin said Tuesday. Many public stations also received the letter, Lumpkin

Ergen's letter said the company was prepared to reach carriage deals with any
station with 'meaningful local content,' even if the U.S. Supreme Court were to
strike down a law requiring satellite carriage of all local TV stations in
market where a satellite carrier has elected to carry any.

'Let us reassure you: If must-carry is upheld, we will continue to comply
with the law, without question. If must-carry is overturned, the merged EchoStar
still intends to carry all local channels with meaningful local content in all
210 U.S. television markets,' Ergen's letter said.

It was not immediately clear whether local stations would flock to Ergen's
offer because the NAB is fiercely opposed to EchoStar's proposed merger with
DirecTV Inc. parent Hughes Electronics Corp.