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Dish Wants FCC OKFor Importing Signals

Washington — Dish Network asked the Federal
Communications Commission to move “without delay”
to certify that it should be allowed back into the business
of delivering distant signals, contending its lone
critic among TV stations is off base.

As part of Congress’ reauthorization of the law that
provides a blanket license for satellite carriers to deliver
distant signals, Dish agreed to deliver local TV-station
signals to the remaining handful of markets (a little
over two dozen) where it has been economically unfeasible
to deliver them in order to be able to again import
distant signals.

Dish, the No. 2 U.S. direct-broadcast satellite firm, had to
stop delivering out-of-market versions of affi liated network
TV stations to subscribers who could not receive a viewable
over-the-air signal from their local affiliate. A court ruled
Dish was not accurately identifying who qualified for the
signals and enjoined it from delivering them.

In reply comments filed with the FCC, Dish said only
one out of`1,782 U.S. TV stations objected to certifying
Dish as a qualified carrier.

That station is WMDT in Salisbury, Md., which said
Dish was still not delivering any commercial stations in
its market.

It said Dish only tried to strike carriage deals with the
stations a few days before a June 3 deadline.

Dish said it has launched the local PBS affiliate, WCPB,
under a must-carry agreement, but is not required by law
to carry any stations that have elected (but have yet to
grant) retransmission consent without an agreement —
and said copyright law prohibits it from doing so.

The direct-broadcast satellite provider must legally negotiate
“in good faith,” which it said it has done. It also
said it provided “timely notice” (on Feb. 19) that it would
be delivering local signals in the market.

Separately, Dish is challenging a mandate to carry all
noncommercial stations’ HD signals by the end of next
year. Because it struck deals to carry the HD feeds of 30
noncommercial stations, it was exempted from the expedited
timetable. Despite this, Dish is challenging the
mandate, claiming it is unconstitutional.