Dissing two-dish deal

Broadcasters last week took aim at EchoStar's plan requiring some subscribers to obtain a second dish to receive all local stations in their market. The NAB and the Association of Local Television Stations say the practice is illegal. EchoStar says it is a necessary stopgap measure until more spectrum is available. The broadcast groups are urging the FCC to provide interim relief to DBS providers only under strict conditions: 1) require widespread publicity for EchoStar's offer for free equipment and installation; 2) order company payment of all consumer out-of-pocket expenses; 3) insist on "hassle-free" installation; 4) eliminate any preconditions to qualify for no-cost installation.

Carriage request

Broadcasters are making a novel bid to revive prospects for TV stations' digital carriage. In mid January, attorneys for several station groups approached the FCC about holding oral argument on the industry's bid to win cable carriage for both analog and digital signals during the transition to DTV. Although oral argument on a rulemaking would be unusual, the FCC once routinely did so. The FCC has tentatively concluded that dual carriage violates cable's First Amendment rights.

Bidding bunch

The FCC has approved 12 applicants to bid on one or more of four construction permits to build analog-TV stations in Columbia, S.C.; Pittsfield, Mass; Magee, Miss.; and Scottsbluff, Neb.