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EchoStar Asks Supreme Court To Protect Rights Of TV Viewers

DISH Network is EchoStar's direct broadcast satellite TV system that is capable of offering over 500 channels of digital video and CD-quality audio programming, as well as fully MPEG-2/DVB compliant hardware and installation. DISH Network currently serves over 7 million customers.
Littleton - Apr 03, 2002
EchoStar, through constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, this week asked the United States Supreme Court to protect the free speech right of all Americans to choose the television programs they want to watch.

Current law provides that consumers can only have access to their local network channels, and prohibits Americans from watching local news and information originating from other areas of the country. EchoStar believes this law violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

In its filing, EchoStar asks the Supreme Court to overturn a September 2001 ruling by the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit which upheld the constitutionality of the statute at issue.

EchoStar believes that Americans have the right, under the First Amendment, to watch satellite television programming of their own choosing in the same way that Americans have the right to choose the books or newspapers they read or the movies they watch.

Today, consumers living outside of New York are permitted to subscribe to their local newspaper as well as the N.Y. Times, Washington Post or other newspapers across the country, yet those same consumers are denied access to New York television news.

The technology necessary to make those channels available outside of the New York television market exists today, but EchoStar is prohibited by law from making that news and information available outside of New York.

Even Congressional members are today prevented by this antiquated law from monitoring TV news coverage from their home states while working in their offices in Washington, D.C.

Satellite TV technology can provide local TV channels to consumers across the entire United States, rather than the limited reach broadcast channels have today.

EchoStar has already committed, following approval of its pending merger with Hughes Electronics Corp., to offer local TV channels in all 210 television markets in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

By combining this plan with the ability to offer distant network TV stations, consumers would have greater choice in what news and information they receive.

EchoStar's First Amendment challenge arises out of a 1998 lawsuit that TV networks filed demanding that the federal district court in Miami prohibit EchoStar from providing ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX programming to consumers unless the programming originates from the network affiliate located nearest to the consumer's home.

The networks contend that if a consumer is predicted to receive a signal from their local network TV station using a massive roof-top antenna, then the consumer should not have the option of obtaining programming from the same network which originates in any other city, even when the distant network content is different from the local programming and may be preferred by the consumer.

While every consumer in America has the right to purchase and read a newspaper printed outside the consumer's hometown, consumers are being prevented by an antiquated law from watching local TV news from other cities via satellite television.

Source: Echostar Communications

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FCC Suspends DirecTV Deal Review
 Washington - Mar 8, 2002
Late last week, regulators at the US Federal Communication Commission suspended a review of the proposed $26 billion satellite TV merger of EchoStar Communications and DirecTV pending further information from EchoStar.

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