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Local broadcasters try to block EchoStar

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An article from today’s Denver Post reports that local broadcasters in Colorado filed a motion to block EchoStar Communications’ last-minute effort to circumvent a court ruling and continue to provide more than 900,000 DISH network customers with its distant-network signals. This is part of a seven-year legal battle in this copyright law case, the story says.

Apparently today is the deadline for EchoStar to shut off its service after a U.S. district court ruling in October 2006. EchoStar is trying to get around it by the following loophole, explained by the company’s general counsel:

EchoStar general counsel David Moskowitz said Thursday that National Programming Services will lease a transponder, or a portion of a satellite, from EchoStar to provide distant-network stations. Customers must order the service directly from NPS and are billed separately.

“We asked the court to confirm that the arrangement with NPS is entirely appropriate,” he said. “We’re confident it’s permitted by law.”

The National Association of Broadcasters sees it differently:

“EchoStar demonstrates again its arrogant and flagrant contempt for the rule of law,” said Dennis Wharton, a a National Association of Broadcasters spokesman. “We’re hopeful the courts recognize this latest stunt for what it is: a serial copyright abuser’s refusal to comply with numerous court verdicts and federal statutes that preserve the enduring value of local broadcasting.”