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Sky Angel Wins Legal Battle With DISH NetworkSets stage for expansion of multi-channel faith-based satellite TV service (September 14, 2004)
After more than a year of litigation, an arbitration panel has unanimously ruled that EchoStar Communications Corp. (DISH Network) violated its contract with direct broadcast satellite (DBS) licensee Dominion Video Satellite Inc., owner-operator of Sky Angel, the nation's only faith-based direct-to-home satellite television service and the country's oldest DBS company, and has ordered EchoStar to pay monetary damages to Dominion and to come into compliance with an eight-year-old contract between the two DBS operators.
The order will enable Dominion to move forward with plans to expand its multi-channel Sky Angel programming service into more U.S. homes and locations while laying the groundwork to deliver the service internationally.
The legal saga is one of David and Goliath proportions with Dominion, a privately owned company and the nation's number three DBS service provider, facing the publicly traded EchoStar, operator of the nation's second largest DBS service. The arbitration panel's order stems from a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed in April 2003 by Dominion against EchoStar for multiple contract violations by the Littleton, Colo.-based DBS operator after other efforts by Dominion to resolve matters without litigation failed.
"Now that this legal challenge is behind us, we feel that we can move forward and build upon the groundwork that has been laid for this important and much-needed television alternative," said Robert Johnson Jr., Dominion's CFO and interim CEO. Johnson took over leadership of Sky Angel following the death last month of his father, Robert W. Johnson Sr., the founder of the Sky Angel satellite service. A DBS pioneer and visionary, Johnson Sr. was part of the first round of high-power DBS license applicants in 1981, and his was one of only nine companies to receive a construction permit and launch authority from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a high-power DBS service in 1984. Dominion today remains the sole DBS survivor of that pioneering group and is one of only four companies in the United States licensed to own and operate a high-power DBS service.
The Sky Angel service presently delivers 36 TV and radio channels of Christian faith-based and family programming to homes, churches, nursing homes, prisons, colleges and more throughout the 48 Continental United States that become equipped with a small 18- to 20-inch satellite dish.
With indecency in broadcasting and a la carte programming at the forefront of the TV viewing public's minds, families are searching for relief from offensive television. Sky Angel is committed to preserving itself as a true family-friendly alternative or complement to mainstream cable and satellite television services where subscribers generally have to pay for and receive channels that may be in conflict with their values in order to receive the channels that they want.
Dominion has had a technical agreement with EchoStar since 1996 by which Dominion presently operates its multi-channel DBS service using an EchoStar satellite and DISH-brand receiving equipment; in exchange, EchoStar utilizes several of Dominion's channel frequencies licensed to Dominion by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The two services operate independently of one another, but because subscribers to either service utilize the same satellite receiving system, they have the option of subscribing to both services simultaneously using the same receiving system.
Dominion's expansion plans include commencing construction on the first phase of its permanent uplink facility and international headquarters in Naples, Fla. The company acquired 23 acres of land near the southern end of Collier County, Fla. last summer for this three-phase project, and phase one will comprise the company's 47,000-square-foot technical center and transmission and receiving satellite dish antennas. Dominion also has a construction contact with Orbital Sciences Corporation in Germantown, Md. to construct its own satellites for domestic U.S. and international program delivery and plans to commence construction soon on one of those satellites.
More about Sky Angel
Among the types of programs available through Sky Angel are classic movies and sitcoms; gospel films; wholesome family dramas; shows for kids and teens; biblical teaching, ministry and inspirational programs; Christian music from sacred to gospel to contemporary; music videos; special events, conferences, prayer gatherings and concerts; educational programs and documentaries; news and commentary from a Christian perspective; health and fitness shows; sports, outdoors and home life programs; talk shows; ethnic programs, including Spanish, Native American, African American, Russian and Asian; holiday specials; live radio broadcasts; and more. Among the 36 24-hour networks that air on Sky Angel is KTV (Kids and Teens Television), the world's first Christian television network just for kids and teens.
The 36-channel Sky Angel package is available nationwide for $11.99 per month or $119.90 per year through a small satellite dish and will work alongside or without another television service. A free information video is available at www.skyangel.com or 1-800-SKY-ANGEL (1-800-759-2643).
Related Keywords:Sky Angel, DISH Network, satellite TV, EchoStar Communications, Dominion Video Satellite, DBS, Robert Johnson Jr., Robert W. Johnson Sr., Orbital Sciences Corporation,