Florida Court Dismisses EchoStar Counterclaims Against Broadcasters

A Florida District Court has thrown out all of EchoStar's counterclaims against broadcasters in a suit originally filed by broadcast networks and local network affiliates in 1998.

In that suit, broadcasters alleged that EchoStar engaged in "gross violations" of the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act (SHVIA), including illegally providing distant network signals to subscribers already served by local broadcast stations. EchoStar responded by filing counterclaims alleging unfair competition and conspiracy to interfere with EchoStar's business relationships.

The court denied EchoStar's allegations because the company failed to prove that the broadcasters intended harm with its claims. EchoStar's only remaining claim is a request for a declaratory ruling that it did not violate SHVIA and the case is scheduled to go to trial the week of April 7.

NAB President Eddie Fritts said the association was "gratified" by the decision."We expect the court will soon fully vindicate broadcasters by holding EchoStar liable for massive violations of SHVIA," said Fritts.