Judge Deals DBS Merger a Setback

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A federal judge in Washington, D.C., Tuesday rejected Nov. 18 as the trial
date for the Department of Justice's antitrust case against the direct-broadcast
satellite merger between EchoStar Communications Corp. and DirecTV Inc. parent
Hughes Electronics Corp.

EchoStar and DirecTV filed a motion seeking an expedited trial date, but U.S.
Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle ruled that Nov. 18 was "unrealistic" and that time
pressures on the company -- an apparent reference to the merger's Jan. 21
termination date -- were of their own making, a court source said.

Huvelle ordered the companies' and DOJ's lawyers to return Thursday with a
schedule that proposed starting the trial in February or March, a court source
said.

"[Hughes parent company General Motors Corp.] and Hughes
are disappointed that the U.S. District Court had denied the companies' request
for expedited trial and will consult with EchoStar about options and next steps
in the merger-review process," Hughes spokesman Richard Dore
said.

EchoStar spokesman Marc Lumpkin said, "We are pleased that we have been given
an early trial date. We intend to continue to work to explore remedies that
might satisfy the Department of Justice's concerns."

Lumpkin indicated that the Jan. 21 termination date could be negotiable. "We will discuss options with GM and Hughes as we move forward," he added.

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