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SBCA seeks local signal delay

The satellite TV industry has asked a federal court to delay requiring
satellite TV companies to carry all local TV stations in all the markets they
serve by January 1, 2002.

The motion, filed by the Satellite Broadcasting and
Communications Association and EchoStar Communications Corp., says the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is unlikely to resolve a pending lawsuit
on the matter before the deadline, and thus should enjoin the law until the
issue is resolved in the courts.

"Time is of the essence and recourse to the district court, with the serious likelihood of subsequent litigation on the question before this Court and then the Supreme Court, would require time that is simply not available," the petitioners wrote.

The DBS industry, which may consist of only one carrier
if the government approves EchoStar's proposed purchase of Hughes Electronics,
says the satellite "must-carry" law found in the Satellite Home Viewer
Improvement Act of 1999 is unconstitutional because it dictates what programming
satellite TV carriers must offer.

They also say it's an unconstitutional "taking" of private property-satellite capacity. - Paige Albiniak