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Supreme Court Turns Down EchoStar Request

Jan 8, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The U.S. Supreme Court today without comment turned down EchoStar Communications’ request to hear an appeal from a district court ruling that has stopped the satellite service from providing distant network signals to rural customers.

The move, which had been expected, will increase the pressure on EchoStar to go to Congress to get the decision overturned if it wants to continue competing for rural customers. EchoStar on Dec. 1 had to stop providing the rural signals to 900,000 customers. Some of those customers signed up with a service that provides TV channels using EchoStar’s dish.

EchoStar, whose Dish Network competes with DirecTV, lost the right to provide the signals as an outgrowth of copyright violation charges that it illegally offered signals of out-of-market broadcast affiliates to customers not legally eligible to receive them. Satellite broadcasters can provide signals of in-market stations, but out-of-market signals are supposed to go only to customers unable to otherwise receive major broadcast networks.

The court fight evolved into one between EchoStar and Fox, whose parent News Corp. currently owns the majority stake in DirecTV, with Fox stations refusing to settle with EchoStar even as stations owned by other firms did. Liberty Media is buying DirecTV but the announcement of that deal, due to close later this year, came after the case was decided.

EchoStar had no immediate comment.