EchoStar files Fox beef

WASHINGTON — One day after complaining to Congress about cable programmers’ attempts to hoard sports programming, EchoStar CEO Charlie Ergen filed papers at the Federal Communications Commission alleging that Fox/Liberty Sports is illegally refusing to sell regional sports programming at fair rates.

In its FCC filing, EchoStar claims that Fox/Liberty is charging discriminatory rates for the regional sports service and that it is attaching other provisions to the deal designed to discourage the satcaster from making a deal.

“EchoStar believes programming should be made available to both cable and satellite distributors on a fair and equal basis, thus cultivating rigorous and true competition,” Ergen said.

While cable companies generally concede they must make much of their programming available to satcasters, they insist the rates offered to cable companies reflect volume purchasing power, not efforts to undermine competition. EchoStar has approximately 800,000 subscribers.

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