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NAB seeks local signal enforcement

The National Association of Broadcasters and other groups on Monday told a federal appeals court not to enjoin a Jan. 1, 2002 deadline, by which date the law requires satellite TV companies to deliver all local TV signals in all markets they are serving.

"The satellite carriers cannot show that they will suffer any harm-much less irreparable harm-absent an injunction. [The law] imposes no restrictions or obligations. Starting January 1, 2002, the carriers will have an option to carry all local broadcast stations in each market in the country without obtaining copyright permission to do so. But they will not be forced to carry any station. Thus, the extent to which [the law] affects them is a matter entirely within their control," wrote NAB, the Association for Local Television Stations and Univision in a petition filed with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.

Media Access Project, on behalf of the Consumers Federation of America and the United Church of Christ, also filed a petition asking the court not grant an injunction.

Earlier this month, EchoStar Communications Corp. and the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association asked the court to enjoin the deadline, saying it should not go into effect if their lawsuit disputing the overall law remains unresolved. The broadcasters argue that an injunction would harm small broadcasters because it will allow satellite companies to continue not to carry them, limiting their audience and threatening their existence.
- Paige Albiniak