EchoStar Communications Corp. must pay $4.79 million in legal fees to broadcasters that sued the company to stop illegal use of network superstations imported from other markets, a federal district court judge ruled March 26.
Whether EchoStar actually pays up remains an open question, however, because a previous decision finding Echostar guilty of illegal behavior is under appeal.
In support of the award, Judge William Dimitrouleas of the federal district court in Miami wrote that "EchoStar's infringements were 'clearly willful'...and that EchoStar continued to serve hundreds of thousands of subscribers in violation" of the law restricting satellite providers' use of imported network signals. EchoStar officials would not comment Monday.
Oral argument in the appeal was held Feb. 26 and a decision is now pending. ABC, NBC and CBS have settled the case. Their affiliate organizations and the Fox network and its affiliates remain parties to the appeal.