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SBCA Takes Must-Carry Challenge To The Supreme Court

ALEXANDRIA, VA, March 7, 2002 -- Today the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association (SBCA) and EchoStar Communications Corp. filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to review the Fourth Circuit of Appeals decision on satellite must-carry.  Regarding today's petition, SBCA President Andy Wright issued the following statement:

"Satellite must carry is unconstitutional and anti-consumer.  It clearly violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution because it favors certain local broadcasters over others and it penalizes direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers for carrying popular stations by forcing them to carry every station without monetary compensation.  By mandating carriage of every broadcast station in markets where satellite offers local broadcast signals, it will preclude millions of consumers in smaller markets and mid-sized markets from receiving any local channels via satellite.  

As we have said from the outset, consumers in the marketplace should decide what programming satellite companies carry, not a federal mandate.  We remain firmly confident that we will ultimately win this case on the merits of our constitutional arguments.

Further, when the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 against cable’s challenge of must-carry it did so because it concluded cable was a bottleneck monopoly wielding enormous market power and had anti-competitive reasons for refusing to carry popular broadcast stations as a result of its vertical integration with programmers and its competition with local broadcasters for local advertising dollars.  Neither of those points, which were specifically cited in the Supreme Court ruling, is applicable to the DBS operators."