Two-Dish Ban Passes Muster In the House


The House last week approved satellite copyright-renewal legislation that gives EchoStar Communications Corp. just one year to convert all local TV subscribers to a single satellite dish.

EchoStar customers in 38 markets currently need two dishes to receive all of their local TV stations — a practice that infuriated the National Association of Broadcasters, but one that the Federal Communications Commission refused to ban. The House bill, if enacted in the weeks ahead, would hand the NAB a victory.

The House bill (H.R. 4518) would allow EchoStar to require a second dish, but all local TV stations would have to be available on that dish. EchoStar indicated it might move all local TV stations in the 38 markets to the second dish, which would mean subscribers with one dish now would need to install a second dish within a year.

“EchoStar is disappointed that the legislation passed by the House … includes many provisions harmful to consumers. The current bill would potentially force the installation of millions of second satellite dishes that consumers neither want nor need, benefiting only broadcaster special interests in other markets,” EchoStar said.

The bill, passed by the Senate Commerce Committee, includes a digital-white-area provision, but it failed to embrace Ergen’s full request.