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DirecTV Approaches FCC on Two-Dish Locals


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23 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   Steve Mehs

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 04:36 AM

In January, DirecTV approached officials at the Federal Communications Commission concerning EchoStar's use of two dishes to deliver a select set of local channels to its customers.

DirecTV brought up the two-dish issue during meetings with support staff for Democratic Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein. At the meetings, DirecTV officials said they support past criticisms from FCC leaders that suggested the Media Bureau's decision to allow EchoStar to deliver a select set of local channels via a second dish is inconsistent with regulations.

Copps and Republican Commissioner Kevin Martin made those remarks on EchoStar's two-dish solution last spring.

DirecTV also pointed out to Copps and Adelstein that its satellite TV service provides local channels from a single full-CONUS slot, allowing its customers to receive local broadcasts with one dish.

Last spring, the National Association of Broadcasters and others asked the FCC to take action to address satellite carriage of certain local stations in a manner that requires subscribers to obtain a second satellite dish.

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#2 OFFLINE   Mike123abc

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 10:37 AM

Wow, looks like DirecTV is picking up Charlie tactics. Nothing like trying to get your competitor into hot water with regulators. If DirecTV were really smart they would advertise that they have advanced high tech dishes that do not require a second dish or something to point out the E* difficulties of 2 dishes.

There is of course no real reason for E* to keep putting locals on the wings. For some markets like NY/LA maybe it makes sense with 8 channels on wings, but many markets they will just put one station on the wing when it could fit on the spot. I guess they are trying to be consistent with the policy in every market.

#3 OFFLINE   Scott Greczkowski

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 10:59 AM

I happen to think that DirecTV is right on the money about this complaint.

Dish basicly thumbed its nose at the FCC on this one.

#4 OFFLINE   greg_n

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 11:13 AM

Well since the FCC did not let them merge they really have no other option to add bandwidth to comptete with cable.


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#5 OFFLINE   scooper

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 11:20 AM

I suppose E* could put ALL the locals for a city on a sideslot - then they would be in perfect compliance...
How about NY or LA totally on the sideslots ?
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#6 OFFLINE   Brett

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 11:20 AM

The thing was Ergen added several more markets filling their capacity on many spots.

It was a strategic ploy.

The networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox) dont want to lose exposure, nor do the affiliates. So I doubt Dish will be forced to move all Dallas locals to spotbeam and then a result have to shift all Waco to 148.

The network affiliates will want the prime spots (spotbeam) and get them. The independent stations of the bigger markets that have complained will eventually have less say than the network affiliates of the medium markets. Fact of the matter is the independent stations make very little revenue while the network stations make tons. Without the network affiliated stations as part of the NAB, the NAB would not be able to support itself.

#7 OFFLINE   scooper

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Posted 03 February 2003 - 11:24 AM

Of course - NY or LA on sideslots isn't going to happen - but you could start requiring some of the smaller DMA's (where there is no spot) on them.
You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...

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#8 OFFLINE   Chris Freeland

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 10:29 AM

Without the merger, E* needs to have the flexibility to split many of the DMA's to stay competitive and have the ability to offer more markets then they could otherwise, the Big 4 Nets, at least 1 PBS and perhaps UPN and WB need to remain on 119 or 110 for E* to remain competitive in these markets. Besides, the 2nd dish and instillation is Free. D* is complaining for selfish reasons, they know that if E* is forced to place all channels in a local market to a single dish, it would force them to drop some markets and make it very difficult for them to compete. These are simelor tactics that D* has used to keep E* from competing with them in the major Consumer Electronics stores such as BB and CC in the past. D* is just trying to reduce competition in as many markets as they can get away with.

#9 OFFLINE   James_F

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 02:50 PM

Chris, you are missing the point. Its not like Dish should even be allowed to have two dish locals. DirecTV is playing by the rules so why shouldn't Dish?

#10 OFFLINE   Steve Mehs

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 05:37 PM

Quite frankly, I don't care E* is violating SHVIA, in fact I'm glad they are. Many people are getting the equipment they need to go HD in the future, sans the 6000 or 921, for free.
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#11 OFFLINE   James_F

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 06:24 PM

Uh thats a pretty poor attitude Steve. I mean why even have rules? :confused: Why not just let everyone do what they wish huh?

#12 OFFLINE   Steve Mehs

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 06:38 PM

Companies circumvent the rules all the time, nothings going to change that. If E* (or D*) can work something out with the FCC more power to them. Only the lesser viewed channels are on the side slots, and there some few cases that a second dish for some reason (tress, or what have you) can't be installed but for the most part it seems to be working out well. Plus squeezing more channels on to the spot beam transponders will just create more compression for the channels that are already on them. Quite honestly, I don't want my lameo PBS to contibute to decreasing the quality of ABC or CBS, where I record many shows from.
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#13 OFFLINE   Mark Holtz

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 06:46 PM

Most of the English language programming on D* is on 101. However, there are some markets which do require a multi-slot dish to receive some local markets.
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#14 OFFLINE   James_F

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 08:01 PM

Originally posted by Steve Mehs
Companies circumvent the rules all the time, nothings going to change that. If E* (or D*) can work something out with the FCC more power to them. Only the lesser viewed channels are on the side slots, and there some few cases that a second dish for some reason (tress, or what have you) can't be installed but for the most part it seems to be working out well. Plus squeezing more channels on to the spot beam transponders will just create more compression for the channels that are already on them. Quite honestly, I don't want my lameo PBS to contibute to decreasing the quality of ABC or CBS, where I record many shows from.

I agree that there is a HUGE bandwidth problem, but that doesn't mean you can go around the rules that are set up.

#15 OFFLINE   Brett

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 08:06 PM

Originally posted by James_F
Chris, you are missing the point. Its not like Dish should even be allowed to have two dish locals. DirecTV is playing by the rules so why shouldn't Dish?


Actually SHVIA doesnt specifically say its illegal for a provider to keep some locals of a market on wing satellites and the others (of the same market) on CONUS.

Fact of the matter is the NAB didnt foresee this when they drafted SHVIA. SHVIA was a poorly written law.

The NAB wanted to ensure the satellite providers keep the channels in continuous order (on the EPG), and customers taking local networks have free access to mustcarry stations, but no rules were written about making sure locals in a market originate together from same satellite location.

#16 OFFLINE   Mike123abc

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 08:26 PM

Echostar is playing by the rules. The law did not say it has to be on one dish, and the FCC ruled that that way too. It may go against the spirit of the law, but then it does not break it. Yes it makes broadcasters mad, yes it irratates some people on this board, but until FCC rules differently or the law is changed, not much can be done.

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 08:52 PM

IIRC, the FCC did rule that there must be safeguards in place to ensure that all local channels within a market are placed contiguously.

It is to that end, during those proceedings, that Dish Network mentioned the "two-dish" solution was temporary, until the new spot-beam satellites were in orbit and in service.

Of course, that may have been another promise that Dish Network refused to keep.

This issue is a concern that cost the merger, according to a few FCC commissioners. And they are still thinking about hitting Echostar up about this issue.

You cannot blame everyone for picking on Echostar. They allowed their own words to be used against them.

#18 OFFLINE   Karl Foster

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 10:57 PM

Originally posted by Z'Loth
Most of the English language programming on D* is on 101. However, there are some markets which do require a multi-slot dish to receive some local markets.


Name one market that requires two separate dishes to receive locals on Directv. A multi-slot dish is a single dish solution to carrying local markets that come from a different satellite location. That is very much in compliance with SHIVA requirements.

What I think is unfair is that Dish Network decides which locals are important and which are expendable. If you live in Phoenix, the Univision affiliate requires a second satellite dish. To me, that is burdensome, especially for apartment dwellers. YMMV, but it seems to me that Dish is skirting the spirit of the rules by finding loopholes.
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#19 OFFLINE   Brett

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 11:44 PM

Dish didnt like the rules from the start.

They were fighting mustcarry after SHVIA was passed, and wanted Congress to break the network-affiliate exclusivity relationship so customers can pick and choose the local network affiliates they want (for example, purchase NY stations in Des Moines like how one can purchase NY Times in Des Moines). Probably what would happen in this fantasy scenario would be Dish would see which ABC NBC CBS Fox stations would pay for a national carriage, then Dish would offer those affiliates.

If I was running Dish, I'd fight for significantly viewed or allowing network affiliates and TV stations to be purchased on Grade B contours also, not just Nielsen DMAs. I think Dish would have a stronger chance with that, then fighting against mustcarry or fighting for complete breakup of network exclusivity.

DirecTV didnt like the rules, but now especially doesnt like that if Dish can do something why can't they. If Dish can do it, DirecTV would move some of the "minor" Philly stations to Siberia, then carry Harrisburg-Lancaster TV market to increase penetration levels in that unconvered market.

The NAB monopoly didnt want an Echostar monopoly controlling how things worked, so were vocal against the merger. The NAB also is vocal against NewsCorp and Viacom growing bigger, and certain duopolies for the matter. Along with preservation of mustcarry and ownership caps, The only thing they support is TV station-newspaper cross ownerships (currently not allowed by FCC, only grandfathered situations are allowed). I agree with the NAB only on that.

I do agree in principle with Echostar in terms that some mustcarry stations dont deserve to be treated equally to some real TV stations. Stations that people watch (according to Nielsen Media Reserch) and that service their city of license should be valued more than useless stations that fail to service their city of license with any programming geared to the majority of the city. Stations that request mustcarry but are just using it to keep a channel reservation should be forced to either send a signal over, or be told they'll lose their channel reservation. Because WTVE, WLVT and WMGM requested mustcarry (but never pursued their mustcarry obligation), it increased the number of mustcarries Dish thought they'd have to deal with in Philly, hence why the Philly mustcarry stations were given 129.

And any PBS station (like NJN or CPTV) that requests 2 stations of the same network(WNJS WNJN on D* for example), should be stripped of mustcarry rights altogether. People in Southern NJ dont care for NJN - it doesnt cover us and has no valuable programming.

#20 OFFLINE   Jacob S

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Posted 05 February 2003 - 12:02 AM

How can DirecTv have all of those locals at one orbital slot and Dish has to use more than one orbital slot to fill in just as many locals? DirecTv is going to have 100 locals by the end of the year I hear, are they going to use the same orbital slot to do this? If they can do this how come can Dish not do this? How is DirecTv doing this and how come is Dish not doing this?




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