Hundreds of protesters marched in front of EchoStar Communications Corp.'s
Washington, D.C., office Tuesday, demanding that the satellite-TV company begin
carrying Word Network, a channel devoted to black gospel programming.
The protesters, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, marched and chanted slogans
such as, 'We're dissin' the dish' and 'No justice, no peace.'
They also targeted EchoStar's CEO, saying, 'Charlie Ergen, go to hell.'
The protest wrapped up with speeches from Sharpton and the Rev. Horace
Sheffield III, president of the Michigan chapter of the National Action Network,
and a prayer from Bishop Eddie Long of Atlanta.
During the speeches, Sharpton threatened an African-American boycott of
EchoStar's Dish Network if it didn't begin carrying Word. 'If you don't want to
do business with us, then we will not do business with you,' he said.
He added that the protesting 'starts with EchoStar, but we'll go
In his closing prayer, Long asked for 'this Goliath called Ergen and EchoStar
In response, EchoStar said it had chosen not to carry Word 'because the
number of qualified applicants exceeded the number of public-interest channels
available for 2001.' EchoStar said it is adding CoLours Television and StarNet
to its public-interest-channel lineup.
CoLours TV is a nonprofit network that is owned and operated by African
Americans. Its mission is to portray the cultural diversity of African, Asian,
Latin and Native Americans. Representatives from the Urban League, the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Black United Fund sit
on its board of directors.
StarNet is a distant-learning service.
EchoStar also said that if its merger with DirecTV Inc. is approved, Word
will be carried on the merged service because it is already carried on