Christian networks battle over Dish Network
Three major Christian television networks are battling each other in a satellite broadcasting fight that has gone largely unreported.

In April, Dominion Video Satellite, which owns the Sky Angel satellite service, sued Echostar, the parent company of Dish Network, saying it violated a 1996 contract. Sky Angel, the company said, had exclusive rights to air Christian content on the Dish Network. So what were the Daystar Television Network and FamilyNet TV doing on new Dish channels?

Simple, said Echostar. FamilyNet TV is owned by the Southern Baptist Convention, but it isn't exclusively "Christian programming." As for the more religious Daystar, the satellite company said, federal law requiring satellite providers to grant at least 4 percent of their channels to "noncommercial programming of an educational or informational nature" takes precedence over the exclusive deal.

Last week, U.S. District Judge John L. Kane called Echostar's arguments "disingenuous," and issued a temporary injunction removing Daystar and FamilyNet from the Dish Network while the Sky Angel suit was worked out in arbitration.

"Based on my review of the relevant regulatory provisions that [Digital Broadcast Satellite services] have discretion to choose between qualified applicants, I find EchoStar was in no way 'required' to choose the Christian-themed programmers it did. Moreover, I find that FCC regulations do not preempt the exclusivity provisions of the agreement," Kane wrote.

Kane ridiculed claims that FamilyNet isn't religious programming, and suggested that both the Southern Baptist network and Echostar were dishonest. "To describe FamilyNet as anything other than Christian-religious programming is absurd," ...

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