From our friends at SkyReport.com
Maybe these two FCC commissioners were on to something.
When one approved (Republican Kevin Martin) and one dissented (Democrat Michael Copps) on the FCC decision to approve News Corp.'s takeover of DirecTV and Hughes, they both brought up the issue of using a second dish to receive local signals. The commissioners wanted the FCC to clarify requirements under the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act concerning the issue. And they wanted to require that, in providing local-into-local service pursuant to SHVIA, DirecTV could not place certain local stations on wing satellites.
In his disapproval of the News Corp./DirecTV transaction, Copps said SHVIA required that "if a provider carries any local broadcast signals, it must carry all local broadcast signals, and must do so at a nondiscriminatory price and in a nondiscriminatory manner." Requiring consumers to obtain a second dish to receive some local broadcast stations in a market "did not comply with the statute or commission rules," he said.
The second-dish issue was given more life when DirecTV floated its proposal to use a second dish to tap into programming delivered from a Canadian-controlled orbital slot.
To provide additional capacity for new local TV markets, the satellite TV service wants to move its DirecTV 5 satellite into a Telesat Canada-controlled orbital location at 72.5 degrees. Customers residing in the new markets who want locals delivered from the slot will be required to use a second 18-inch dish to receive the channels. The DirecTV 5 satellite move is contingent on FCC approval and the successful launch of DirecTV 7S this quarter.
EchoStar uses a two-dish solution (second dish and installation free of charge to consumers) to deliver a small slate of locals. However, the packages are mixed. In Tulsa, for example, DISH Network customers can get the major networks, PBS, UPN and WB channels via one dish, but need a second dish to tap into two local channels (KWHB and KGEB) available only via wing satellites. The same is true for a select set of other local TV packages.
DirecTV's plan to use wing satellites won't split local TV packages between dishes. The second 18-inch dish will deliver locals in a single package.
Nonetheless, with 2004 satellite industry talk expected to center on Congressional renewal of SHVIA and the FCC studying closer DBS satellite spacing, expect the second-dish issue to surface quite frequently during inside-the-Beltway debates.
And expect broadcasters to make a lot of noise about the second dish.
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