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EchoStar Says Some May Lose Channels

June 12, 2003|From Bloomberg News

EchoStar Communications Corp., the second-largest satellite television broadcaster in the U.S., said it may have to stop providing local TV station signals to "less than 10%" of its customers because of a court ruling.

The ruling came in response to a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Miami by Viacom Inc.'s CBS television network and affiliates of the CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox networks. They accused EchoStar, owner of the Dish Network satellite TV service, of improperly rebroadcasting their signals without permission.

EchoStar, based in Littleton, Colo., has said an order to stop broadcasting local-station signals in some far-flung markets could cost them customers. EchoStar shares rose after the ruling because the company avoided a so-called death penalty that would have barred it from offering local channels in any market, analysts and investors said.

The federal court ruled that EchoStar didn't follow proper procedures in determining which of its customers are allowed to receive "distant" signals of network affiliates. Those are customers who live too far from major cities to receive broadcast signals with a rooftop TV antenna.

EchoStar is allowed to rebroadcast local stations to distant subscribers without the broadcasters' consent.

EchoStar shares rose $2.04 to $35.34 on the Nasdaq Stock Market after earlier touching a two-year high of $35.94.

EchoStar said it would appeal some parts of the ruling.

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