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Dish Prepping New Talks With Noncoms Over Carriage

A representative of Dish Network told a California congresswoman Tuesday that it was arranging for new talks with noncommercial TV stations over carriage of their signals.

That came after Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo renewed her sharp criticism of the satellite company over the fact that it had not struck a deal to carry noncommercial stations' multicast or HD signals in a "nondiscriminatory manner."

Eshoo has introduced a bill that would force such noncom carriage as in the public interest, saying Dish's "refusal" to negotiate meaningfully for carriage with public television is a market failure Congress needs to address.

Cable operators and DirecTV have struck national digital carriage deals with noncoms.

Dish representative R. Stanton Dodge said the company had negotiated in good faith. He could not say when it last was at the table with PBS, but that the company was working with Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette to set up "another round of discussions with PBS."

Eshoo shot back that she wanted to be kept in the loop on those plans, saying she might bring something to the table, even if maybe Dish didn't think she would. Dodge said he had no reason to think she wouldn't.

Eshoo said she was also "deeply disturbed" by reports that Dish had told Hispanic Caucus members that Eshoo's bill would force satellite companies to stop carryng Spanish-language channels. She said her bill didn't prevent anything, but that it instead required carriage of PBS digital programming. As to satellite arguments that mandatory carriage would push Hispanic stations off the dial, she suggested Dish drop some of its "soft porn" PPV channels if space were a problem.