FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
News media information 202/418-0500
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
March 22, 2000
NEWS MEDIA CONTACT:|
John Winston (202) 418-7450
Washington, D.C. -- Today, the Enforcement Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) notified EchoStar Satellite Corporation (EchoStar) that it was apparently liable for a forfeiture of $11,000 for failing to comply with the requirement that it reserve four percent of its channel capacity for noncommercial programming. The Enforcement Bureau proposed a forfeiture of $11,000 and ordered that EchoStar, within 30 days, either pay the forfeiture or show why the forfeiture should be reduced or not imposed.
This forfeiture is based upon the Enforcement Bureau's investigation of EchoStar's compliance with Section 335 of the Communications Act and Section 100.5 of the Commission's rules. Pursuant to those provisions, Direct Broadcast Satellite providers, such as EchoStar, were required to set aside four percent of their channel capacity for use by qualified noncommercial programmers and to carry qualified noncommercial programming on those channels by December 15, 1999. EchoStar failed to meet the December 15 deadline. In order to eliminate any possibility that EchoStar's consumers could suffer disruption because of Y2K problems, the Commission previously had held that EchoStar would not be subject to enforcement action during the period from December 16, 1999 to January 7, 2000. By January 7, 2000, EchoStar had come into compliance with the requirement.
The Enforcement Bureau's investigation determined that while EchoStar was required to carry 13 channels of qualified noncommercial programming on December 15, 1999, it was only carrying 4 channels of such programming on that date. In the Notice of Apparent Liability, the Enforcement Bureau proposed the maximum forfeiture allowable under the Communications Act because of the importance of the noncommercial set-aside requirement, the fact that EchoStar had a more than adequate period of time within which to comply with the set aside requirement, and the lack of any factors that supported mitigation of the forfeiture.
Action by the Chief, Enforcement Bureau, March 21, 2000, by Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (DA 00-622).
File No. EB-00-IH-0014
Enforcement Bureau Contacts:
John Winston at (202) 418-7450
John Schauble at (202) 418-1420