Their deal with E* is "you loan us two transponders to broadcast on, and we'll loan you six licenses for other transponders". There are restrictions on the deal, but that is the basics.
I'm unclear how SA* putting up their O&O bird would give them another transponder.
SA putting up their own bird means they can get off of E*'s bird, recoup the six loaned transponders for their own use, and use all six for whatever programming they choose. (SkyAngel HD anyone?)
SA's current deal with E* restricts the content they can put on the six loaned transponders, so I expect any backup plan would have similar restrictions. The internationals may be the most offensive channels left on E3. Most of the other channels are broadcast TV channels. The internationals follow the decency standards of their home countries. Which may be an issue.
(Note that I realize SA* may not want to carry some of E-3's programming due to its content, but perhaps a deal could at least be worked out to carry international channels, as for many expatriates, if E-3 went down (and they were unable to immediately repoint to 119 or 110 (or 121?)) they would have no service in their native language. I would like to think SA* might consider that as a factor.)
I've seen other reports of that within 30 days but no reports anywhere that the arbitration was actually finished or the results. Either it isn't over or nobody is bragging.
FWIW, I don't even understand why it's taking so long to settle this matter, because SA* had posted to their "hidden" website at skyangel.com/echostarlawsuit that (at one point) the matter was going to arbitration which would be completed in 30 days.
At that site, in fact, it states (in a paragraph dated January 29, 2004) that "... EchoStar and Dominion are in arbitration, which is in less than 30 days."
Yes. Hidden in their quarterly reports there will be a paragraph that may or may not give enough detail to know what happened, if anything happened at all.
What I don't get is why E*, being publicly traded, wouldn't release the results of said arbitration (even if not favorable to E*)? Aren't they required to inform investors if anything were to affect one of their business contracts?