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Satellite TV to Leave Behind 2/3rds of US TV Stations

New Grassroots Watchdog Organization Releases Study Showing That Tens Of Millions of Americans Will Not Have Local Channels or High Speed Internet Access (July 24, 2001)
According to a study released today, the satellite television industry plans to leave behind at least 1,100 television stations -- over 2/3 of all local television signals in the United States -- when new spot beam satellites are launched.

"These satellite giants make their decisions on the television stations they must carry based on pure profit and politics -- without a thought given to the public interest," said Peter Pitts, executive director of EARN -- Equal Airwaves Right Now, a grass roots watchdog organization formed to help stand up for the rights of the millions of Americans who do not have access to their local television stations. "That's why they are leaving behind local stations! That's wrong," said Pitts.

When satellite services were first launched they were sold as a service for rural and underserved Americans. EARN's study shows that the satellite television industry has done a full about face and satellite television is focused only on the top markets, leaving behind over 160 television markets, out of 210 total markets in the United States.

"Not only can't a majority of Americans get their local TV channels by satellite, the same satellite giants are also denying low cost high speed access to the Internet, in effect running tens of millions of Americans off the side of the Information Superhighway," added Pitts.

"Satellite companies are touting the spot beams as a solution, but they're not. Our study shows that the spot beams are aimed at markets that are already served, and will leave behind the vast majority of all communities. The satellite industry takes advantage of free spectrum, but they ignore the needs of American communities," said Pitts.

Groups supporting EARN's Left Behind project include:

Benedek Broadcasting Corporation

BroadwaveUSA, Inc.

Consumer's Federation

Eagle III Broadcasting, LLC

Granite Broadcasting Corporation

Gray Communications Systems

League of United Latin American Citizens

LIN Television Corporation

Media Access Project

National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters

Paxson Communications Corporation

Second Generation of Iowa

"The Federal government is watching -- but most Americans, including many African-American, Hispanic, and rural Americans cannot," said Pitts. "Almost every public television station nationwide has been left behind -- and nobody seems to care."

EARN's slogan is "Help America Get the Picture." And to help spread the word the organization is planning a series of newspaper ads aimed at those markets that are going to be "left behind."

SOURCE Equal Airwaves Right Now press release

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