PRIMETIME 24 SUED

Fox, CBS fight distant-market signals

WASHINGTON — CBS and Fox affiliate groups have asked a federal court in Miami to block DBS pro-grammer PrimeTime 24 immediately from selling any more subscriptions to a program package that includes out-of-market CBS and Fox signals.

Alleged violations

The affiliate groups allege in the federal lawsuit that PrimeTime 24 is violating copyright laws by selling a DBS package that includes CBS and Fox signals to subscribers who live in areas where both webs have local af-filiates. NBC and ABC have filed similar lawsuits against PrimeTime 24 in Texas and North Carolina.

Under current law, only those homes that do not have access to local affiliates are legally qualified to receive the PrimeTime 24 package. The law was written to ensure that the small percentage of homes in rural areas without a local affiliate signal would have access to networks. The affiliate groups claim that PrimeTime 24 is violating the law on a “grand scale.” They claim that hundreds of thousands of the DBS programmer’s 2 million homes can re-ceive a signal they shouldn’t.

PrimeTime 24 officials were unavailable for comment Wednesday.

In the Miami market, CBS and Fox hired an engineer to determine how many homes were qualified to receive the PrimeTime 24 package. Out of 100 randomly selected homes, none was qualified for the PrimeTime 24 package, according to Fox and CBS.

PrimeTime 24 excluded

PrimeTime 24 is not included in a tentative agreement reached between broadcasters and other DBS pro-grammers on the importation of distant-market signals. The agreement calls for the creation of a database that would allow retailers to determine which homes are qualified for distant-market signals. Simply by entering a po-tential subscriber’s zip code, the retailer could determine if the home is qualified for the distant-market program-ming package.

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