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Tax Hater Backs Sats on Superstations

Republican anti-tax activist Grover Norquist is backing satellite TV providers' bid to drop as many local broadcasters as they can in favor of network superstations. "This is a win-win proposal for taxpayers," says Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform. Congress this year must renew the law allowing satellite providers to import distant network signals to subscribers who don't get a clear signal from their local affiliate.

DBS providers are trying to tweak the law so that more customers are eligible to receive imported digital signals. With access to more DTV programming, consumers will buy more digital sets and the conversion to all-digital broadcasting will be accelerated, Norquist argues. "The DBS companies have the technology to jump-start the digital television transition tomorrow morning if Congress will allow them to," he says.

Norquist isn't a player in telecom policy, but is one of the most powerful behind-the-scenes Republican organizers and has brought political muscle to bear on GOP lawmakers who don't follow his anti-tax, small-government agenda.