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EchoStar Sustains Legislative Loss In U.S. House

By | October 7, 2004

      EchoStar Communications Corp. [DISH] took a political hit yesterday when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill in a voice vote that will require the company to spend an estimated $100 million to offer subscribers in 30 U.S. markets local signals with just one satellite dish rather than the two dishes they require now.

      In addition, the bill did not include a provision backed by EchoStar and the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association that would have created a “digital white area,” as contemplated by Senate Commerce Committee legislation, to allow consumers to receive high-definition, digital, distant-network signals via satellite if they live in a place where local broadcasters have not yet converted from analog to digital technology.

      Following the vote, EchoStar issued a statement expressing disappointment, saying the legislation contains many provisions “harmful to consumers.” The company’s one ray of hope is that provisions in the Senate Commerce Committee bill, which would allow rural consumers to receive a distant digital network signal via satellite and would allow a longer period of transition to address the two-dish issue, ultimately will be adopted if House-Senate conferees meet to consolidate the bills. However, the Senate has yet to bring its version of the bill to the floor for a vote.

      Look for a full analysis of this vote in the Oct. 11 issue of Satellite News. For more information on subscribing to Access Intelligence’s suite of satellite industry publications, please visit us on the Web at

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