NAB Accuses EchoStar of Hypocrisy


The National Association of Broadcasters is circulating a letter on Capitol
Hill that accuses EchoStar Communications Corp. of hypocrisy on carriage of
local TV signals.

The NAB -- an opponent of EchoStar's proposed merger with DirecTV Inc. parent
Hughes Electronic Corp. -- stated in the letter that EchoStar is telling two
stories on the carriage issue that are inconsistent.

One version to Congress promises carriage of all local TV stations in the
country within two years after the merger; the other to the Supreme Court
pledges carriage of only some local stations if the high court strikes down a
law requiring mandatory carriage of all TV stations, the trade group said.

'The hypocrisy between what EchoStar is telling Congress and simultaneously
telling the highest court in the land underscores the dangers in allowing
EchoStar to become a monopoly satellite operator,' NAB executive vice president
James C. May said in the March 14 letter to all 535 House and Senate

On Friday, EchoStar sent its own letter to Congress that hit back at the NAB
for resorting to deliberate mischaracterization of EchoStar's position on

'We fail to understand why the NAB chooses to distort these issues when their
local broadcast members are one of the biggest beneficiaries of the merger,'
EchoStar director of government relations Karen Watson said. 'By adding local
stations, these local broadcasters know that the merger will increase their
stations' viewership.'

EchoStar, Watson added, has pledged to carry all local TV stations with
meaningful local content if must-carry is struck down as unconstitutional under
the First Amendment.

'But we don't believe our customers necessarily want us to carry 200
identical home shopping channels that have no local content, no local news,
weather or sports, when that valuable spectrum could be used for programming and
new high-definition channels,' she said.