With Dec. 1 the court-ordered deadline for EchoStar to cut off distant TV network signals to 850,000 subs, the battle between broadcasters and the satellite company raged.
The National Association of Broadcasters saw EchoStar's contract for satellite capacity with National Programming Service, which delivers local station signals to its customers, as a way to circumvent the court's Oct. 20 injunction, calling it "flagrant contempt" for the permanent injunction.
NAB also pointed out that the U.S.Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit had denied EchoStar's motion to stay the injunction. A Florida court had earlier also turned down an appeal of the injunction.
We're hopeful the courts recognize this latest stunt for what it is: a serial copyright abuser's refusal to comply with numerous court verdicts and federal statutes that preserve the enduring value of local broadcasting," said NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton.
EchoStar shot back in a statement: " “EchoStar has worked diligently to make sure consumers have a choice of distant network signals. We reached a $100 million settlement that was accepted and later rejected by the broadcasters, yet they continue to bully consumers and the courts.
"We are hopeful the courts will see through the Fox Network-led coalition of broadcasters, whose real intention is to deny consumers their freedom of choice and leave the Fox-owned DirecTV as a monopoly for distant networks.”
Fox's DirecTV is looking to woo the EchoStar subscribers who will suddenly not be able to get their local stations.
The injunction stemmed from the court's conclusion that EchoStar could not effectively distinguish between subs eligible to receive a distant network affiliate and those who could receive an acceptable local signal of that same network. EchoStar settled with almost all the stations, but that did not dissuade the court. It also sought help from Congress, and a bill was crafted that would have effectively blocked the injunction, but no action was taken before the Thanksgiving break, which isn’t over until next week.