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FCC Officially Nixes Double-Dishing

The Federal Communications Commission concluded that satellite-TV companies cannot split up carriage of local-TV-station signals on two dishes.

The commission Friday vacated its earlier declaratory ruling that had found that EchoStar Communications’ requiring of multiple antennas to receive all local-TV-station signals was discriminatory, but that wrongly offered EchoStar remedial options rather than banning outright the two-dish approach.

"We vacate the ruling to the extent that it said that split-market carriage could be lawful," the FCC said.

The decision is, in essence, a housekeeping move that squares the FCC with Congress, which, in 2004, changed the Satellite Home Viewer Reauthorization Act to prohibit the two-dish delivery of local stations.

The FCC also dismissed petitions by the National Association of Broadcasters taking issue with its initial declaratory ruling, saying that they were now moot.