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Dish: Court Denies Injunction Of Noncom HD Mandate

A Nevada U.S. district court has denied Dish Network's request for a preliminary injunction against implementation of the noncommercial station HD carriage mandate in the satellite reauthorization law, according to a Dish spokesperson.

"We are disappointed with the decision, and intend to appeal," said Dish in a statement. "We believe that our customers should be the ones who decide what they want to watch on TV and how they want to watch it. We also believe that it is important to defend those fundamental First Amendment rights."

The court heard Dish's argument Thursday and ruled immediately, given the short time frame for action before the mandate kicked in.

Dish filed the injunction three weeks ago in Nevada, where it is incorporated, because it is facing a July 27 deadline for coming to carriage terms with 30 noncom stations or triggering a speeded-up (by the end of next year) timetable for carriage of all noncommercial signals in any market where it carries any stations in HD.

Dish's bone to pick is not with the FCC, which is required to enforce the law, but with the legislation that it argues puts a thumb on the scale in favor of a particular type of programming.

Dish has said that the mandate violates its First and Fifth Amendment rights and has already put a crimp in business plans it based on the 2008 FCC timetable for phasing in HD carriage of all local TV stations, including noncoms, by 2013.

"APTS is pleased that the court understood that requiring Dish to carry public television stations' local HD signals is not an undue hardship to DISH," said Association of Public Television Stations interim president Lonna Thompson. "Simply put, there is no compelling justification for Dish's continued discriminatory treatment of local public television stations in those markets where it is carrying commercial stations' HD content."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.