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US Supreme Court Rejects EchoStar Appeal On TV Broadcasts January 8, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Judiciary, US News.
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WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from EchoStar Communications Corp. (DISH), which has been trying to overturn a national court order barring it from providing broadcast network TV programming to its subscribers.

Echostar has since 1998 been involved in litigation with broadcast networks over whether it was illegally providing some households with broadcast programs. Federal law allows satellite companies to provide rural subscribers with broadcast networks if they can’t otherwise obtain a broadcast television signal. But Echostar has been accused of providing programming to ineligible customers, leading to a federal court order barring the broadcasts to all of its subscribers.

“That holding has had profound ramifications,” Echostar said in its Supreme Court appeal. “It has deprived hundreds of thousands of individuals across the country of access to network television.”

Since the filing of the appeal, however, Echostar has turned over transmission of the contested signals to a third party company, a company spokeswoman said. Under that arrangement, National Programming Service, or All American Direct, is providing the signal. Appropriate Echostar subscribers can, after contacting the company, receive the signals on their current satellite equipment. Echostar is also, in some instances, providing broadcast antennas for households that can receive the signals.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta issued an injunction last year that covered all of Echostar’s subscribers rather than just the subscribers who were wrongly receiving the signals. Prior to the December 2006 deadline, Echostar and broadcast networks tried to reach a settlement.

The case is Echostar Communications v. Fox Broadcasting, 06-545.

By Mark H. Anderson, Dow Jones Newswires

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