Jul 5, 2010

Dish Network sues FCC over noncom HD carriage mandate

Dish Network is suing the Federal Communication Commission over the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, which requires the satTV provider to deliver noncom stations' HD signals by next year, reports Broadcasting & Cable. The suit, filed last week (July 1) in Las Vegas where Dish is incorporated, seeks a temporary restraining order and injunction against the FCC's enforcement of the Act. "This is not a case about whether PBS provides important and worthwhile programming or should receive funding from the government," Dish said in a statement. "Dish highly values PBS programming ... This case is about who gets to make the editorial judgment whether to carry local PBS stations in HD -- Dish or the government." Dish and the Association of Public Television Stations have been negotiating for more than three years for a carriage deal; APTS already has a deal with DirecTV.

UPDATE: APTS "expressed disappointment, but not surprise," at Dish Network's suit in a statement today (July 9). APTS noted it has been trying for years to reach a private carriage agreement on behalf of pubTV with the satellite carrier. "Dish subscribers should be permitted to access local public televisions’ informational and educational programming, and Dish is fully capable of providing this content.” said Lonna Thompson, APTS interim president. APTS will file an amicus brief with the Justice Department addressing the need for the STELA provision in order to prevent further discrimination by Dish against pubTV HD programming. A court date is set for July 22.

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