DISH: Court Won't Delay Noncom HD Mandate - Broadcasting & Cable

DISH: Court Won't Delay Noncom HD Mandate

Network says mandate violates First and Fifth Amendment rights
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A Nevada
U.S. district court has denied DISH Network's request for a preliminary injunction
against implementation of the noncommercial station HD carriage mandate
in the satellite reauthorization law, according
to a DISH spokesperson.

"We are disappointed with the decision, and intend to appeal," said DISH in a statement. "We believe that our customers should be the ones who decide what they want to watch on TV and how they want to watch it. We also believe that it is important to defend those fundamental First Amendment rights."

The court
heard DISH's argument Thursday and ruled immediately, given the short
time frame for action before the mandate kicked in.

DISH filed
the injunction three weeks ago in Nevada, where it is incorporated,
because it is facing a July 27 deadline for coming to carriage terms
with 30 noncom stations or triggering a speeded-up
(by the end of next year) timetable for carriage of all noncommercial
signals in any market where it carries any stations in HD.

DISH's bone
to pick is not with the FCC, which is required to enforce the law, but
with the legislation that it argues puts a thumb on the scale in favor
of a particular type of programming.

DISH has said that
the mandate violates its First and Fifth Amendment rights and has
already put a crimp in business plans it based on the 2008 FCC timetable
for phasing in HD carriage of all local TV stations,
including noncoms, by 2013.

"APTS is pleased that the court understood that requiring DISH to carry public television stations' local HD signals is not an undue hardship to DISH," said said Interim Association of Public Television Stations President Lonna Thompson. "Simply put, there is no compelling justification for DISH's continued discriminatory treatment of local public television stations in those markets where it is carrying commercial stations' HD content."

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