Failing to get a stay of injunction to avert withdrawing distant network TV service from DISH Network subscribers who are not within range of local TV services, EchoStar recently cut distant network TV service to approximately 900,000 viewers.
However, the satellite provider has attempted an end-around deal that would give many of those subscribers their distant network TV channels from another provider, who will lease transponder space from EchoStar’s satellites.
EchoStar said that it would lease a satellite transponder to National Programming Service LLC, an Indianapolis-based provider of satellite programming to big-dish C-band satellite subscribers.
National Programming Service is offering the service directly to customers and does not require subscribers to buy any programming from EchoStar. To further separate the businesses, DISH Network subscribers are not automatically converted to the new service.
The service is offering a package of East and West Coast feeds of CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX, from Atlanta and San Francisco, for $9 per month. Individual networks are offered at $2.50 per month.
The service is offered to some markets across the country through the Web sites: MyDistantNetworks.com and AllAmericanDirect.com.
The action immediately rose the ire of broadcasters who sued to block EchoStar’s distant network practice.
According to the National Association of Broadcasters, “the network affiliate groups involved in the litigation filed an immediate cease and desist order, asking for an emergency motion to halt EchoStar’s flagrant contempt of the Permanent Injunction entered by the court on Oct. 20, 2006.”
“EchoStar demonstrates again its arrogant and flagrant contempt for the rule of law. We’re hopeful the courts recognize this latest stunt for what it is: a serial copyright abuser’s refusal to comply with numerous court verdicts and federal statutes that preserve the enduring value of local broadcasting,” stated NAB media relations executive VP Dennis Wharton.
EchoStar responsed by saying: “We are hopeful the courts will see through the FOX Network-led coalition of broadcasters, whose real intention is to deny consumers their freedom of choice and leave the FOX-owned DirecTV as a monopoly for distant networks.”
Meanwhile, a bill was proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives to make clear that the court has the authority to accept any settlement reached between the various parties.