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EchoStar Asks FCC To Declare Big Ten Regional Sports Net

Citing stalled negotiations and a desire for arbitration, EchoStar has asked the FCC to declare that the Big Ten Network is a regional sports network, which the FCC could require to submit to arbitration, rather than a national programming network, which it could not.

In a filing for a declaratory ruling Monday, EchoStar essentially used the "if it walks and talks like an RSN, it's an RSN" argument, saying that the network, a joint venture of Fox Cable Services and the Big Ten athletic conference, has regional programming and is priced like a regional programmer and bears "little relation to the greatly reduced pricing structure of existing national college sports-based networks [like] CSTV and ESPNU."

EchoStar says that it has been unable to reach agreement on carriage after almost three months oftrying and takes issue both with the price Big Ten is asking and its condition of nationwide carriage.

EchoStar is not the only party interested in Big Ten's pricing. House Energy & Commerce ChairmanJohn Dingell (R-Mich.) has asked the network to explain its pricing policy.

Big Ten attorneys were still checking out the filing at press time, according to a spokeswoman.