AVS Forum banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
154 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As early as Monday afternoon, a federal judge in Miami could issue an order that cuts off local TV service to millions of Dish Network customers.

- Multichannel News
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,399 Posts
RiPeti: Do you have a link to your source?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,304 Posts
Quote:
Judge Could Zap Dish's Local Package



By Ted Hearn

Multichannel News

5/5/2003



As early as Monday afternoon, a federal judge in Miami could issue an order that cuts off local over-the-air TV stations for millions of EchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish Network customers, as a result of finding repeated copyright violations by the satellite carrier.


An injunction terminating EchoStar's hugely successful local TV service would be a shocking, little-anticipated outcome to the five-year-old case.


But both satellite and broadcasting sources last week said U.S. Judge William P. Dimitrouleas might have no other option under the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999.


Wide whiplash

Dimitrouleas could stay an injunction pending appeal. But if he decides to give EchoStar only 30 or 60 days to shut down all local-TV transmissions, a firestorm could erupt on Capitol Hill, causing damage to both EchoStar and broadcasters with lawmakers who'd find themselves trapped between angry dish owners and longtime business supporters.


Thus, it's just not EchoStar that could be hurt.


"We do not intend to do anything that would be anti-consumer in this process," a broadcast industry source said.


The case involves allegations by CBS, Fox and their affiliates (plus ABC and NBC affiliates) that EchoStar illegally sold network signals to thousands of satellite customers who were ineligible to purchase them.


Federal law restricts reception of distant-network signals to homes located in so-called white areas, or places where the signals of local network affiliates can't be picked up with a conventional rooftop antenna.


DirecTV settled

The law contains complex methods for determining eligibility, and whether EchoStar played fast and loose with processing would-be customers is apparently at the heart of the case.


Because local affiliates do not want to lose audience (and, ultimately, advertising revenue) to their out-of-market brethren, they have been pressing the federal courts to crack down on EchoStar and DirecTV Inc.


DirecTV settled and dropped out of the case. EchoStar settled with ABC and NBC, but not with CBS or Fox — and not with any of the powerful network-affiliate groups.


EchoStar's settlement with Fox has evidently been complicated by News Corp.'s bid to buy DirecTV parent Hughes Electronics Corp. A court victory for Fox could give News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch significant leverage over longtime rival EchoStar chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen.


CBS parent Viacom Inc. is reportedly interested in acquiring EchoStar in the wake of Murdoch's bid in April to spend $6.6 billion for a controlling stake in Hughes and about 11 million satellite subscribers.


Lawyers and others close to the Miami case noted that SHVIA contains a "death penalty," in that if EchoStar is guilty of "willful and repeated" distant signal violations, the law states a court "shall order a permanent injunction" barring EchoStar from retransmitting "any television broadcast station."


The death penalty, then, doesn't just apply to illegal distant-signal customers, but to all subscribers to broadcast-TV signals, both local and distant.


Cutting off EchoStar would also hurt local TV stations carried via satellite until subscribers could find an alternative — perhaps DirecTV. Sources said that in court last week, broadcast attorneys made it clear to Dimitrouleas that they knew the "death-penalty" provision to be an unavoidable remedy.


"We are aware of the language in the legislation," a broadcasting source said.


106 markets eyed

A DBS source said the vast majority of EchoStar's 4 million subscribers to local or distant signals take the local package. Since entering local markets in late 1999, as authorized for the first time under SHVIA, EchoStar has entered 64 local markets and announced plans last Thursday to enter 42 more by the end of the year. A judicial cutoff of EchoStar's local TV service would raise serious financial and competitive issues, sources said.


"Clearly, that would be to EchoStar's significant competitive detriment, if the judge were to go that route, rightly or wrongly. I think they are staking their competitiveness on their ability to provide local signals," said Howard J. Barr, a DBS attorney with Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice here.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
154 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
This is gonna hurt Dish more then ever, especially since losing the merger battle, and the fact that I might leave them because they dont carry the YES Network
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
187 Posts
It will hurt more than Dish, those local channels put dinner on my table. Does this judge understand the amount of retailers that will be decimated if local cahnnels get taken away?

I'm sure that Echostar will buy their way out of this mess, I don't see how they could let this go as far as having to quit serving locals.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
12,972 Posts
Thanks Vic for the full report. I refused to sub to the service. I get enough viagra spam every day. :(


Deep down, I would be happy for the TV Satations to not be uplinking their signal for DBS downlink and the FCC reversing the must carry rule. I don't sub to locals and use an antenna for that purpose. I understand that there are those who must have locals via a carrier because of their locations, eg. LA, CA. But that is what Cable is supposed to be for.

However, on the business side, I see the lost revenue that E* gets from selling local subs and that could mean a 150 million dollar hit to their bottom line a year. NOT GOOD! The advantage might mean that they could downsize and not need the new bird at 121 if they didn't have to do locals, then offer ALL available HDTV channels on 110 for a no-overhead single dish solution. I'm not saying that the lost revenue could be replaced by the HDTV subs but maybe in combination with not launching a new bird, in the short run could lessen the impact to their cash flow should this decision go down against E*.


They could also prop up another company to do just sat, locals and sublet the 121 to the other company, making it back on selling bandwidth. They do this now for corporate and private broadcast TV. I'm sure CE has lots of tricks up his sleeve.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,531 Posts
This would seem to hurt broadcast affiliates (but probably not that much) whom Dish is currently paying for carriage.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,877 Posts
Quote:
Originally posted by cnz
Does this judge understand the amount of retailers that will be decimated if local cahnnels get taken away?
The judge is there to decide a matter of law. The damage to local retailers has ZERO weight in this decision. If Dish broke the law, the fact that local retailers will suffer will have no bearing on his decision - that's Dish Network's fault.


Juries primarily base their decisions on emotion, but a judge will generally base his decision on the law.


Sorry, but that's the way it is.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,884 Posts
It is, however, a very bad law, bought and paid for by special interests. It is sometimes very interesting to watch the political fireworks when a law like this gets literally enforced.


- Tom
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,050 Posts
If they really wanted to introduce true competition in the media business, I'd be able to buy any market that a provider -- satellite, cable, etc. -- wanted to sell me. Television would be more like the internet used to be; where there are no restrictions on what sites you visit.


Dennis
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,531 Posts
The linked article paints a doomsday scenario. It is highly unlikely that the judge will issue an injunction that would bar locals carriage on Dish Network.


The penalty discussed in this article is that specified under the "PATTERN OF VIOLATIONS" section of the SHVIA. More likely, Dish Network will either 1) settle outside of court, or 2) face statutory damages, probably in excess of $50 million, under the INDIVIDUAL VIOLATIONS provision. That's really what the affiliates are after anyway; they don't want the locals removed from viewers that rightly receive them (which gains them nothing); they want the monetary damages they feel they can get for the violations.

Quote:
(1) INDIVIDUAL VIOLATIONS.—The willful or repeated secondary transmission to the public by a satellite carrier of a primary transmission embodying a performance or display of a work made by a television broadcast station to a subscriber who does not reside in that station’s local market, and is not subject to statutory licensing under section 119 or a private licensing agreement, is actionable as an act of infringement under section 501 and is fully subject to the remedies provided by sections 502 through 506 and 509, except that—


(A) no damages shall be awarded for such act of infringement if the satellite carrier took corrective action by promptly withdrawing service from the ineligible subscriber; and


(B) any statutory damages shall not exceed $5 for such subscriber for each month during which the violation occurred.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,531 Posts
Quote:
That would make my day if, one day, all of the local channels were gone from D* and Dish.
DirecTV already settled (paid $$), so they are not at issue in this case.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top