EchoStar merger finds more criticism


Two more media-industry players criticized EchoStar Communications Corp.'s bid to acquire
DirecTV Inc. Thursday.

The National Religious Broadcasters charged that EchoStar has shown itself to be "biased against Christian programming" by resisting carriage of Christian and
family-oriented programming, opposing mandates to offer local broadcasts
channels in many markets and offering pornographic channels. Because the merger
would eliminate multichannel competition in markets without cable service, "no
incentive would exist to provide the full range of programming consumers

Also criticizing the merger was the country's largest
Hispanic-advocacy group, the National Council of La Raza.

The group, which frequently weighs in on media issues, wants government
regulators to block the deal unless EchoStar commits to English-language
programming targeted toward young Hispanics. "The younger Spanish population, for
whom English is the first language, will be disenfranchised from the
communications marketplace if Spanish-speaking programming is all that is
offered for their consumption," the group said.