Telecommunications:

To Date, DISH Network Is Cooperating with the Court-Appointed Special Master's Examination of Its Compliance with the Section 119 Statutory License

GAO-12-496R: Published: Mar 23, 2012. Publicly Released: Mar 23, 2012.

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Mark L. Goldstein
(202) 512-2834
goldsteinm@gao.gov

 

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What GAO Found

DISH is cooperating with the Special Master’s examination, which consists of examining DISH’s compliance with the royalty payment and household eligibility requirements of the license under Section 119. Since beginning his examination, the Special Master has been holding regular meetings with representatives of DISH and NAB, which represents the four major networks and their affiliates. The Special Master requested, and DISH provided, information on DISH’s royalty calculations and payments to the Copyright Office. The Special Master told us that he is satisfied with the information provided by DISH to date and is currently in the process of reviewing the methodology DISH used for its royalty payments. To determine whether any problems exist with DISH’s services to eligible subscribers, and whether a more detailed examination of DISH’s records may be needed, DISH and NAB are collaborating on a survey of all major network-affiliated television broadcast stations nationwide. According to the parties, the survey is to be distributed twice: once in February 2012 and again in May 2012, to ensure that affiliated stations are not having issues with DISH’s services. The Special Master has been kept apprised of the development of this survey and expects to discuss the findings of the survey in his July 24, 2012, report.

According to the Special Master and officials representing the broadcast networks, DISH is complying with the royalty payment and household eligibility requirements. As of January 30, 2012, DISH had submitted four royalty payments to the Copyright Office for distribution to the copyright owners. The Copyright Office officials said that there have been no objections filed regarding DISH’s royalty payments. In addition, DISH expanded its local-into-local service to include all 210 DMAs. DISH officials told us that the company is providing distant signals only to subscribers in short markets and eligible recreational vehicles and commercial trucks. Officials from NAB noted that they have not heard any complaints from local television stations regarding DISH’s provision of distant signals, in contrast to the situation prior to the litigation and STELA.

Why GAO Did This Study

This report responds to the requirement, enacted in the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010 (STELA), mandating that the Comptroller General monitor and periodically report on the degree to which DISH Network (DISH) is complying with the Special Master’s examination of its compliance with the royalty payment and household eligibility requirements of the Section 119 statutory license.

For more information, contact Mark Goldstein at (202) 512-2834 or goldsteinm@gao.gov.

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