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B’casters, DBS biz hash it out

WASHINGTON — Broadcasters and the DBS industry are holding talks with the goal of resolving a dispute over several satellite companies’ practice of importing TV signals from big cities into other markets.

Broadcasters insist that the satellite industry is routinely violating copyright law which bars the sale of so-called distant market signals to homes within reach of their local affiliates’ antenna.

Talks are focusing on a proposal which calls for the creation of a huge database that would determine which homes are qualified to receive network signals from distant markets.

CBS, NBC and ABC affiliate groups have each filed separate lawsuits against one DBS provider, PrimeTime 24, claiming the company has violated copyright law by selling distant market signals to hundreds of thousands of subscribers who live well within the contours of their local station’s signal reach. One source said broadcasters are planning to exclude PrimeTime 24 from any deal worked out with the rest of the DBS industry.

Under the proposal, a database would be created that would include every ZIP code in the country. By checking a potential subscriber’s ZIP code, DBS companies could determine whether or not the customer was eligible to re-ceive programming that included distant market signals. The satellite industry has claimed that it is currently ex-tremely difficult to determine which subscribers are qualified for distant signals and which are not.

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