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DirecTV To Lose CBS, Fox

February 26, 1999

MIAMI (AP) _ Thousands of satellite dish owners will need something they thought they’d never bother with again _ a rooftop antenna _ to watch CBS and Fox shows next week.

U. S. District Judge Lenore Nesbitt granted a restraining order yesterday, preventing DirecTV, the nation’s largest satellite TV company, from providing the network shows directly to its customers.

DirecTV has more than 4.6 million customers and offers about 185 channels. Spokesman Jeff Torkelson did not return telephone messages seeking comment yesterday.

About 700,000 customers nationwide are expected to be affected.

Under federal law, satellite TV companies can’t provide network programming if customers can pick the shows up with an antenna. They are permitted to provide network signals from faraway stations to those who can’t.

Broadcasters, including the four major networks _ CBS, Fox, ABC and NBC and their affiliates _ complain that satellite companies rob them of advertising revenue by allowing viewers to bypass local stations.

Nesbitt ruled last year that PrimeTime 24, a major supplier of network programming for satellite TV, had done so illegally. She ordered the practice to stop Feb. 28.

Claiming the order applied only to PrimeTime 24, DirecTV made its own arrangements to get CBS and Fox shows for its customers.

``We think it’s frankly outrageous that DirecTV has done this little stunt,″ said attorney Tom Olson, who represents the broadcasters.

A DirecTV lawyer said the company was only trying to protect customers who are entitled to the programming.

``There is no effort to pull a shenanigan, to utilize a loophole,″ said Alan Greer.

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