Court silences must-carry appeal

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The Supreme Court Monday declined to hear arguments on the satellite
industry's appeal of a law that requires direct-broadcast satellite companies to
carry all local TV signals in any market they are serving -- the so-called
carry-one, carry-all rule.

The satellite industry was disappointed by the decision.

"Today's action will reduce competition and will mean that millions of
consumers in smaller and midsized markets will not receive local channels via
satellite and will be forced to rely on frequently unreliable over-the-air
broadcast signals for their local channels," Satellite Broadcasting &
Communications Association president Andy Wright said.

EchoStar Communications Corp., in contrast, had an uncharacteristically
moderate response: "EchoStar is disappointed in the Supreme Court's decision
today to deny a writ of certiorari to allow our appeal of satellite must-carry,
but it is clear that Congress, the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] and
the courts are in agreement that the must-carry law is constitutional,"
spokesman Marc Lumpkin said.

"EchoStar currently offers local TV channels in 38 TV markets, and it will
continue to work with local TV broadcasters to expand to as many markets as
possible under the must-carry provisions," he added.

EchoStar is trying to get federal approval of its proposed merger with Hughes
Electronics Corp. and its subsidiary, DirecTV Inc.

Broadcasters, meanwhile, celebrated yet another victory in the ongoing battle
to uphold the must-carry regime first established in the 1992 Cable Act.

"This decision represents a major victory for viewers by enhancing the
diversity of local-television-station choices on satellite," National
Association of Broadcasters president Eddie Fritts said.

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