NPS: We Win Distant Nets Ruling

In a twist for the distant networks business, National Programming Service said the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld its right to lease satellite equipment from EchoStar for the retransmission of distant network programming to consumers under the Satellite Home Viewer's Act.

The law allows satellite carriers to retransmit distant network programming to unserved households, which are considered homes unable to receive network programming at a specified level of intensity through the use of conventional rooftop antennas.

This case dates back to the 1990s. In 1998, CBS, ABC, FOX and NBC, along with their network affiliates, sued EchoStar in Florida federal court claiming the company was improperly providing distant network programming to served - as opposed to unserved - households. Eventually, an injunction was entered in 2006 that prevented EchoStar from providing distant network programming under SHVA's statutory license.

NPS, which has been in the business of providing services through C-Band since 1983, approached EchoStar in 2006 to inquire about leasing its satellite equipment. A deal was reached, which enabled NPS to use an EchoStar satellite transponder to retransmit distant network programming to unserved households that signed up with NPS.

The networks then accused NPS of violating the previously entered injunction against EchoStar. The Florida federal court sided with NPS, and the networks appealed. Recently, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals also sided with NPS, the company said.

"We are extraordinarily pleased with the ruling," said Michael Mountford, CEO of NPS. "We believe the Court's opinion vindicates our legitimate right to engage in the secondary transmission market."