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DirecTV Out of Must-Carry Case

DirecTV Inc. has dropped out of the court case challenging the federal law
that requires direct-broadcast satellite carriers to provide every local TV
station in a served market.

'DirecTV is focused on expanding and growing its business in the near term,
and it has decided not to dilute that focus by continuing with this legal
challenge,' DirecTV spokesman Bob Marsocci said in a prepared statement.

Nevertheless, EchoStar Communications Corp. and the Satellite Broadcasting
& Communications Association filed an appeal Thursday with the Supreme

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the DBS 'carry one,
carry all' carriage scheme in December.

'As we have said from the outset, consumers in the marketplace should decide
what programming satellite companies carry, not a federal mandate. We remain
firmly confident that we will ultimately win this case on the merits of our
constitutional arguments,' SBCA president Andrew Wright said in a prepared

On Wednesday, EchoStar chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen announced his plans to
appeal, but DirecTV chairman and CEO Eddy Hartenstein declined to make the same

Last week, EchoStar and DirecTV said that if the merger is approved, they
would carry eligible stations in all 210 TV markets within two years in
compliance with carriage requirements mandated by law. The two DBS companies
combined currently serve 42 local TV markets.

Although DirecTV dropped out of the case, it would be covered if a Supreme
Court ruling strikes down the DBS must-carry law.

If the Supreme Court takes the case, it would likely hear oral arguments in
the fall and issue a decision no later than July 2003.