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DirecTV Goes After Distant Network DISH Subscribers

11/20/2006 02:00:00 AM Eastern

DirecTV launched a pre-emptive strike of sorts at competitor EchoStar's attempts to get Congressional relief from a pending injunction that will force it to end distant network TV service to some 900,000 DISH Network subscribers on Dec. 1.

DirecTV issued a statement Wednesday to help clarify for potentially impacted DISH Network subscribers the actions they face and the possible solutions to losing network TV programming they have available to them — including signing up for DirecTV services.

EchoStar did not return phone calls for comment.

DirecTV is controlled by News Corp., which also controls the Fox Television Network. Fox has fought in court EchoStar's bid to continue offering distant network services in the alleged non-complying manner it claims DISH Network has employed.

The notice, called "five things every consumer should know about EchoStar's distant signal injunction," states that "very few customers will be affected," by the injunction, and that "EchoStar currently offers local ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox channels by satellite in 170 markets, serving more than 96 percent of the U.S. population. These local networks are not part of the court injunction, therefore the majority of its distant network customers will be able to watch their local network channels without interruption."

DirecTV points out that EchoStar said it will try to provide off-air antennas and other alternatives to those subscribers living in areas where no local-into-local broadcast channel services are available.

DirecTV continued that EchoStar lost its ability to offer distant network services because it "has been violating the law for years" and that a Federal Court found that "EchoStar disregarded the limitations of its statutory license and sought to avoid its obligations under the [law] at every turn….We have found no indication that EchoStar was ever interested in complying with the Act."

"Congress put rules in place to ensure fair and open competition," DirecTV said. "For nearly a decade, EchoStar violated the laws that its competitors were following. After a nine-year legal battle, copyright holders were finally able to enforce the law and level the playing field. In the end, fair and open competition is the best way to ensure that consumers everywhere get the kinds of innovation, choices and service they deserve."

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