Supreme Court passes on EchoStar case

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The U.S. Supreme Court Monday rejected without comment EchoStar
Communications Corp.'s appeal of a decision that forbids it from retransmitting
the out-of-market signals of network-TV affiliates to its satellite-TV
customers.

EchoStar had appealed a decision by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in
Atlanta, saying that it had a First Amendment right to provide distant TV
signals to any and all customers who might want those stations.

'[EchoStar] contends that distant-network programming is speech, and that
[the Satellite Home Viewer Act] and the Improvement Act restrict such speech by
prohibiting programming that subscribers are legally entitled to receive,'
according to the 11th Circuit decision, written Sept. 17, 2001.

Specifically, EchoStar was challenging two laws -- the Satellite Home Viewer
Act and the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act -- that govern the way
satellite-TV companies can carry and distribute local television signals.

'[The] NAB is pleased that the Supreme Court has refused to consider
EchoStar's frivolous First Amendment challenge to the Satellite Home Viewer
Improvement Act,' National Association of Broadcasters spokesman Dennis Wharton
said.

'The high court's action enhances the concept of localism in the delivery of
free, over-the-air television,' he added,

EchoStar wants to be able to offer its customers TV signals from other
markets, which the law forbids.

In another case pending before the Supreme Court, EchoStar is arguing that it
should not have to carry every local TV station in every local market it
serves.

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