EchoStar Communications Corp. said Tuesday that it has enlisted
constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe to ask the Supreme Court to give Americans
the right to subscribe to local broadcast channels via satellite from anywhere
in the country.
In a statement, the direct-broadcast satellite company called it a
'fundamental free-speech right of all Americans to choose the television
programming they want to watch.'
EchoStar is challenging a ruling preventing consumers from buying local
channels outside a designated market area under First Amendment grounds.
The company said a change in the law would help Washington insiders to keep
in touch with their own local markets by giving them access to ABC, CBS, NBC and
Fox affiliates from their home states.
As a condition for its proposed merger with DirecTV Inc. parent Hughes
Electronics Corp., EchoStar has offered to deliver all local channels from all
local DMAs in the country.
But if the company uses spot-beam technology for some of those stations,
their delivery would be limited to certain geographic areas.
EchoStar spokesman Marc Lumpkin said the company would like to be able to
offer certain flagship stations nationwide, and it wants the law to favor
nationwide delivery of all stations in the event that spectrum technology makes
that possible one day.
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