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DBS suit could take three years

Wed, 09/20/2000 - 8:00pm
Karen Kessler

DBS operators joined together and filed suit in federal court in Virginia attempting to overturn a law that requires carriage of all local TV signals starting Jan. 1, 2002. But it may take up to three years for the case to be heard by the Supreme Court. The DBS coalition, made up of Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association, DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar, has already waited 10 months to move forward with its court challenge, citing the need to research the legal issues and find a law firm.

Under the law, DBS carriers have to carry all local signals in a market to the extent they elect to carry any stations in a market. DBS-industry leaders said by requiring them to carry little-viewed stations in large markets, the law prevents them from offering CBS Corp., NBC, ABC Inc. and Fox Broadcasting Co. affiliates in small and midsized markets.

In other DBS news, a new report by the Yankee Group, a technology research and strategic consulting group, projected DBS subs will grow to 25 million over the next five years.

The report cites recent legislation permitting satellite delivery of local stations, new services such as high-speed Internet access, satellite receivers equipped with digital video recorders and Interactive TV as partly responsible for the industry's future growth.

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