Washington -- A federal judge in Florida issued a
preliminary injunction last Wednesday barring satellite carrier PrimeTime 24 from selling
distant CBS and Fox network signals to home-dish owners who can receive the same
programming locally with an antenna.
Judge Lenore C. Nesbitt ruled that PrimeTime, the
nation's largest satellite seller of network signals, had to stop violating the
Satellite Home Viewer Act, which protects network affiliates from satellite transmission
of identical network programming from distant markets.
Nesbitt's ruling applies to PrimeTime's
distribution of CBS and Fox, but not of NBC and ABC, as they did not participate in the
Under the ruling, PrimeTime 24 will have to cut off service
to ineligible subscribers who were signed up after March 11, 1997.
DirecTv Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp. distribute
PrimeTime's package via their direct-broadcast satellite services.
This probably means that thousands of dish-owners who will
lose CBS and Fox will flood Capitol Hill with complaints and demands for a change in the
Broadcasters filed for an injunction to prevent local
network affiliates from losing advertising revenue to distant-network signals.
"For years, PrimeTime 24 has illegally provided
distant-network programming to DBS customers who, by law, should receive this programming
from their local station," said National Association of Broadcasters president Edward
Fritts, in a prepared statement.
PrimeTime 24 president and CEO Tom Casey was not planning
to issue a statement until after press time.