FCC sets sat blackout rules

New law affects EchoStar, DirecTV programming

WASHINGTON — The FCC Thursday put into action a new federal law requiring satellite TV companies to black out some sports and entertainment programming in cities such as Los Angeles, passing on the same non-duplication rules that apply to cable operations.

Rules, which take effect at the end of the month, could result in EchoStar Communications dropping KTLA-TV in Los Angeles and WPIX-TV in New York. EchoStar could also have to make program deletions in Denver, Chicago and Boston.

The other satellite provider impacted, DirecTV, could have to black-out programming in Chicago, where it offers superstation WGN.

The U.S. Congress last year passed legislation allowing satellite companies to add local TV stations, but conditioned the approval on the FCC developing rules protecting rights to sports and other local programming. Nearly identical rules apply to cable operators.

Satellite companies will have at least four months to phase in the rules as they apply to network and syndicated programming, and only 60 days to comply with a request to blackout sports.