EchoStar tries to skirt network signal order

December 4, 2006

Even in the final hours, the saga of EchoStar’s fight to deliver network signals to its DISH subscribers continued.

At deadline, a group of TV broadcasters filed a court action accusing EchoStar of skirting a federal court order by allowing a separate programmer to offer network signals to 900,000 of its satellite TV customers.

Reports said EchoStar leased channel space on its DISH Network, beginning Dec. 1, to National Programming Service (NPS) of Indianapolis. The arrangement through NPS would allow DISH customers to continue receiving local stations from distant markets.

EchoStar was under a court-imposed Dec. 1 deadline to cease network transmissions because of copyright violations. Affiliates of CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox networks filed an emergency motion in an attempt to stop the NPS deal.

In the meantime, Pappas Telecasting made a last minute five-year deal with EchoStar that will allow carriage of its TV stations on DISH in 11 markets. As part of the deal, EchoStar agreed to add KCWL in Lincoln, NE, and KUNO in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose market to the DISH lineup.

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