Dish Now Taking FCC to Court over PBS-HD Ruling
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Dish Now Taking FCC to Court over PBS-HD Ruling


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  1. #1
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    Dish Now Taking FCC to Court over PBS-HD Ruling

    Dish Sues FCC Over Noncom Mandate: Report
    DBS Provider Says It Can't Meet Carriage Deadline Requirements


    John Eggerton -- Multichannel News, 7/2/2010 8:13:32 AM

    Dish Network has taken the Federal Communication Commission to court over the congressional mandate to deliver noncommercial stations' HD signals by next year.

    The suit was filed in a U.S. District Court in Las Vegas Thursday, where the satellite operator is incorporated. DISH is seeking a temporary restraining order and injunction against the FCC from enforcing the congressional mandate, which the company argues violates its First Amendment right to chose its own programming.

    "This is not a case about whether PBS provides important and worthwhile programming or should receive funding from the Government,: saidthe company. "DISH highly values PBS programming, and, in fact, carries more local PBS stations than any other pay television provider in the country. This case is about who gets to make the editorial judgment whether to carry local PBS stations in HD-DISH or the Government."

    The Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA), which passed in May, included a provision that requires Dish to deliver public TV stations' HD versions on an accelerated timetable. The FCC had a phased-in schedule that required carriage of all TV station HD signals by 2013. But the bill requires 50% carriage of noncoms by 2010 and the balance by 2011 in any market where Dish is carrying any station in HD.

    In a letter to the House Energy & Commerce Committee Wednesday, Dish Network executive vice president and general counsel R. Stanton Dodge said the company would not be able to comply with the proposal that it deliver all noncommercial stations' HD signals by 2011 in markets where it delivers any local station HD signals.

    Dodge said that not only did that raise First Amendment concerns, but that it could not comply with the rollout schedule--50% by 2010, the rest by 2011--without the additional satellite capacity which it won't have until it launches a new satellite in the fourth quarter of 2012.

    That $350 million satellite is being launched to meet the current FCC timetable for delivering all HD signals in any market where it carries any by February 2013. The FCC's is actually a phased transition over four years: carriage in 15% of markets by 2010, 30% by 2011, 60% by 2012 and 100% by 2013.

    Dish and the Association of Public Television Stations had been negotiating for three years without success. APTS already has a deal with DirecTV.


    Dish has pointed out that it already delivers the standard-definition feeds of PBS stations in 181 markets, more than any single multichannel video provider, and will be doing so in all 210 markets if Congress lets it back into the distant-signal business.

    STELA, the law that reauthorizes the blanket copyright license for delivering distant signals, also allowed Dish back into the business of delivering distant network affiliated TV station signals to subscribers who cannot receive a viewable local signal from that network. Dish earlier this week formally asked the FCC for permission to start delivering those signals, which it was barred from doing by a court decision that it had failed to correctly identify who did and did not qualify to receive distant signals.

    In exchange for a waiver of that court ban, Dish agreed to deliver local TV station signals to subs in the remaining dozen and a half smaller markets where it was not delivering them because it was not economical to do so. In contrast to cable operators, which are required to carry local TV stations in their markets (unless those stations opt to try to negotiate payment), satellite operators have a carry one, carry all mandate that means if they carry any station in a market they must carry all of them.

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  3. #2
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    I have never understood the must carry agreements. In the Davenport IA DMA, WMBD is a low power analog station broadcasting on UHF 26. Their signal is simulcast on WQAD 8.3. The cable company in Moline IL carries it but DISH does not. I wonder what is going on.

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    Satellite has always been coddled by the FCC, as compared to cable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spokybob View Post
    I have never understood the must carry agreements. In the Davenport IA DMA, WMBD is a low power analog station broadcasting on UHF 26. Their signal is simulcast on WQAD 8.3. The cable company in Moline IL carries it but DISH does not. I wonder what is going on.
    Low power stations have nothing to do with must carry's. Only full power stations. Now this is not to say they can't come to an agreement and be carried by satellite. Call the station and ask whats going on.

    Quote Originally Posted by bicker View Post
    Satellite has always been coddled by the FCC, as compared to cable.
    Coddled? It seems to me the FCC is more strict with satellite companies than cable.

    Around here up until recently cable (TWC) carried WBNG 12 from Binghamton, WBRE and WVIA from the Scranton / Wilkes-Barre, PA DMA. We get all the NYC stations as the is the DMA I am in. That is a total of stations from 3 different DMA's. With satellite you only get one DMA. Exceptions: 1. If your DMA is missing one or more of the "Big 4" networks, they can be filled by qualified "Significantly Viewed" channels from a neighboring DMA. 2. Certain areas may qualify for "Distant Nets". Usually NYC and LA. But people out west are not allowed to get the east channels as they will see shows hours before they are supposed to.

    But this is all off topic here. Here is the main problem..
    The FCC had a phased-in schedule that required carriage of all TV station HD signals by 2013. But the bill requires 50% carriage of noncoms by 2010 and the balance by 2011 in any market where Dish is carrying any station in HD.
    So here we are talking about DISH needing to add many PBS-HD channels. 50% of the markets they now serve HD to by the end of this year and the balance by the end of 2011.

    With E15 going up in a couple of days, I think they can pull off the first part but they will have trouble next year as they won't have enough new satellites in place until 4Q 2012. Thats almost a year late. And this is all contingent on good satellite launches. If they have any more problems like with the doomed AMC-14 that never made it to a proper orbit last year they will be in real trouble.

    I don't know why DISH didn't fight this time line earlier if they knew they wouldn't make it. Now it seems to me that DISH might have to temporarliy remove all HD LiL's to some DMA's they already serve to make this work. They just better not touch mine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yes616 View Post
    Coddled? It seems to me the FCC is more strict with satellite companies than cable.
    That's not the case. The FCC waives requirements for satellite services left-and-right: Must-Carry wasn't imposed in the same way (with each market's local stations guaranteed carriage). Separable Security was totally waived. Satellite was coddled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yes616 View Post
    Exceptions: 1. If your DMA is missing one or more of the "Big 4" networks, they can be filled by qualified "Significantly Viewed" channels from a neighboring DMA. 2. Certain areas may qualify for "Distant Nets". Usually NYC and LA.
    Neither accommodation was offered to cable companies. Again, satellite was coddled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yes616 View Post
    But this is all off topic here. Here is the main problem.. So here we are talking about DISH needing to add many PBS-HD channels. 50% of the markets they now serve HD to by the end of this year and the balance by the end of 2011. With E15 going up in a couple of days, I think they can pull off the first part but they will have trouble next year as they won't have enough new satellites in place until 4Q 2012. Thats almost a year late. And this is all contingent on good satellite launches. If they have any more problems like with the doomed AMC-14 that never made it to a proper orbit last year they will be in real trouble.
    None of that affects how the coddling of satellite services affects viewers or communities. You're talking about a company's internal challenges. Are you saying that a company's own internal challenges should affect what they're required to provide viewers? ... because if so, then lots of things that benefit subscribers, that are imposed on cable companies would be thrown away. You can't have it both ways. The viewer and community perspective is clear: Send up more satellites. 3 mux if necessary. Reduce cable HD channels to provide more space for local non-com must-carry. And so on.

 

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