Judge Throws Out DBS Must-Carry Suit

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A U.S. District Court judge in Virginia has tossed out the direct-broadcast
satellite industry's constitutional challenge to a 1999 law that required the
carriage of all local TV signals starting in 2002, according to industry
sources.

The June 19 decision represents a major victory for the National Association of
Broadcasters, which lobbied hard to include must-carry provisions in the 1999
Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act. The SHVIA allowed DBS carriers to offer
local signals in their home markets for the first time.

The Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association said the law
violated the First Amendment by requiring the carriage of all TV stations in a
market if a DBS firm elected to carry even one. DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar
Communications Corp. joined the SBCA in the suit.

The DBS industry is also challenging under the First Amendment the Federal
Communications Commission's rules implementing the 'carry one, carry all'
requirement. That case is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va.

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