Nets sue over satellite access to web affils

WASHINGTON – Broadcasters have taken the nation’s largest satellite carrier to federal court, charging that PrimeTime 24 was illegally selling access to network feeds to DBS subscribers.

The suit was filed by Fox and CBS on behalf of network affiliates that are concerned about the growing numbers of DBS customers who can watch network signals originally broadcast in markets hundreds of miles away. PrimeTime 24 is the nation’s largest provider of web DBS feeds.

Under the Satellite Home Viewers Act, it is illegal to sell a network feed to a satellite subscriber who lives within a web affiliate market.

The law was originally designed to ensure that rural viewers could get access to network feeds if they were not available locally. Broadcasters charge that the satellite carrier is illegally selling the web feed to ineligible customers in urban and suburban markets.

The suit, filed Friday in Miami, seeks $100,000 per show whose copyright was infringed upon by PrimeTime 24 and $5 per subscriber per month that received network satellite signals and didn’t reside in an “unserved household.”

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