EchoStar Fires Back

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EchoStar Communications Corp. fired back at the National Association of Broadcasters and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association Monday after the two teamed up against legislation that would let satellite-TV providers import out-of-market digital programming to local viewers. They currently are allowed to deliver analog signals to unserved customers.

Echostar says the NAB/NCTA position would prevent consumers, especially rural ones, from receiving network digital TV more than two years after all stations were required to offer digital signals.

"There are tens of millions of homes across the country that cannot receive the digital, high-definition television signal from one or more network-affiliated stations within their home market," Echostar said.  One of the main reasons some viewers still don't get a station's digital signal is because many outlets are saving on power costs by transmitting DTV at a lower power that doesn't reach their full coverage area.

EchoStar argues it should have the right to import digital network feeds from distant markets to any viewers who can't get a net's DTV programming from the local affiliate.

"We should be allowed to accelerate adoption of digital technology through use of satellite," the company said. Broadcasters complain that Echostar will refuse to shut off the imported feeds once a household gets access to the local affiliate's DTV programming.

Last week, NAB and NCTA asked lawmakers to defeat legislation granting Echostar's request.

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