EchoStar

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Posted by sonny 03/06/2009 @ 00:11

Tags : echostar, electronics, technology

News headlines
Dish Network Q1 profit up 21% despite subscriber decline; EchoStar ... - Bizjournals.com
Meanwhile, technology company EchoStar Corp., which was spun off from Dish Network at the beginning of 2008, said Monday it lost $645000 in the first quarter, or a penny a share, versus a profit of $5.7 million, or 6 cents a share, a year earlier....
Google invades upfront marketplace - Hollywood Reporter
That's accomplished using information from data provider Equifax, paired with anonymous set-top boxes data from Google TV Ads' customer Echostar. In addition to buying across Echostar's 14 million homes, marketers can buy national spots on Sci-Fi,...
Dish Let's It Rock in Denver - Multichannel News
Today Dish Network held it's general assembly for its retailers at its annual Team Summit event in Denver, Colorado. And from what I heard from Charlie Ergen and his staff was music to my ears. A lot of what I heard announced today at Team Summit I...
EchoStar Offers Sling App For iPhone, iPod Touch - Twice
EchoStar's Sling Media said Wednesday that it is now offering a Wi-Fi-only version of its SlingPlayer Mobile application for the iPhone and iPod Touch at the iPhone App Store. With the $30 app, iPhone and iPod Touch users will have access to TV and...
Vogel Joins Checketts' SCP Worldwide - Multichannel News
Most recently, industry veteran Vogel served as vice chairman of Dish Network and EchoStar Communications, where he will continue as a member of the board of Dish and as an advisor to chairman, CEO and founder Charlie Ergen....
Echo Satellite becomes SatMax - Bizjournals.com
based EchoStar (NASDAQ: SATS) operates a digital set-top box business and a fixed satellite services business. Houston-based SatMax creates a satellite communications “hotspot” that enables fully wireless coverage for multiple concurrent users in any...
Thaw took months of talks - Sports Business Journal (subscription)
He instead worked on other media deals, like the broadcast extensions with CBS and Fox, the directv Sunday Ticket deal and an echostar carriage deal. In Bornstein's place, Goodell brought his chief financial officer, Anthony Noto, a former Goldman...
YouTube's Sells Exclusive "Click to Buy" Sponsorship to VISA - Beet.TV
Other ad formats on the site include banner ads, sponsored and ads sold through Google TV Ads, especially for YouTube's new “Shows” section. Google TV Ads is the company's auction-based system for buying and selling TV time used by Echostar and others,...
EchoStar Q1 Misses; Shares Slip - Barron's Blogs
EchoStar (SATS) this morning posted Q1 revenue of $480 million, down 13.5% from $555 million a year ago, and below the Street at $549.8 million. The set-top box company, a spin-off from DISH Network (DISH), lost a penny a share in the quarter,...

EchoStar

Image:EchoStar.svg

EchoStar Corporation is a technology company that is the owner and maintainer of the satellite fleet for closely affiliated Dish Network. The company also designs and manufactures set-top boxes to receive the Freeview broadcasts in the United Kingdom, as well as receivers for Bell TV in Canada. EchoStar also is home to Sling Media, which designs and builds the Slingbox TV streaming device. EchoStar was formerly the parent company of Dish Network, until the unit was spun off in December 2007.

EchoStar was originally formed in 1980 by its chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen as a distributor of C band TV systems. In 1987, EchoStar applied for a direct broadcast satellite (DBS) license with the Federal Communications Commission and was granted access to orbital slot 119° west longitude in 1992.

On 28 December 1995, EchoStar successfully launched its first satellite, EchoStar I. That same year, EchoStar established the DISH Network brand name to market its home satellite TV system.

In 1998, EchoStar purchased the broadcasting assets of a satellite broadcasting joint venture of News Corporation's ASkyB and MCI Worldcom. With this purchase EchoStar obtained 28 of the 32 transponder licenses in the 110° W orbital slot, more than doubling existing CONUS broadcasting capacity at a value of $682.5 million. The acquisition inspired the company to introduce a multi-satellite system called DISH 500, theoretically capable of receiving more than 500 channels on one dish.

500 might also represent the 950 to 1450mhz frequencies used to deliver the signal throughout the home; the signal is broadcast to the home on the Ku band from satellite. Ku frequencies will not work on home wiring, the signal is downconverted to to the intermediate frequency (IF) of 950-1450mhz at the dish antenna. Newer Dish technology also uses 1650-2150mhz in addition to 950-1450--hence "Dish 1000".

Also in 1998, Echostar - in association with Bell Canada - launched Dish Network Canada.

On 25 September 2007, EchoStar announced it had agreed to acquire Sling Media Inc.

On 2 January 2008 the Dish Network business was demerged from the technology and infrastructure side of the business. A split in the shares created two companies, DISH Network Corporation which consists mainly of the Dish Network business, and Echostar Broadcasting Corporation which retains ownership of the technology side including the satellites, Sling media, and the set-top box development arm.

Orbital Locations Vary Since EchoStar frequently moves satellites among its many orbiting slots this list is not immediately accurate. Refer to Lyngsat.com for detailed satellite information.

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Sling Media

Image:SlingMediaLogo.jpg

Sling Media Inc. specializes in audio and video placeshifting technology. The company is a subsidiary of EchoStar Corporation (purchased in the fall of 2007 ) and is based in San Mateo, California. Their flagship product, the Slingbox, debuted on the US market on July 1, 2005.

Blake and Jason Krikorian, brothers from San Francisco and devoted San Francisco Giants fans, envisioned the concept of the Slingbox during the 2002 Major League Baseball season. Traveling far from home, they faced missing the best games of the season, and sought a solution. The Slingbox was born.

On September 24, 2007, EchoStar announced an agreement to acquire Sling Media for approximately $380 million USD.

Beginning with the colossal refrigerator-like prototype placeshifter for baseball games, the Slingbox soon evolved into the sleek form we see today, designed by Yves Behar, capable of 'slinging' any video source.

Early in its history, Slingbox caused widespread speculation of its possible legal implications. High on the list of issues cited by critics, is the ability to provide a loophole around proximity control, potentially allowing people outside the approved viewing area for events, especially sports, in which distribution traditionally has been restricted by time and region. These concerns have yet to impact Sling Media, however, as the Slingbox has evolved into a family of products designed for compatibility with specific video connections and consumer needs.

The original Slingbox, now referred to as the Slingbox Classic, connects to any standard audio and/or video signal, and streams the video and audio to a computer over a high-speed broadband internet connection. Then the flagship of the Sling Media line of products, it was released July 1, 2005, garnering significant media attention. The so-called "foil-wrapped chocolate bar" appearance made a statement, but many felt the design made the Slingbox stand out, and not in a good way.

Improvement came with the introduction of the second-generation line of Sling Media products, the AV, Tuner, and Pro. While the Slingbox AV became a simplified unit with s-video and composite inputs only, the Slingbox Tuner provided service for the other end of the spectrum, with only a single coaxial input for use by basic cable and antenna-only applications. The Slingbox Pro introduced a four input design, combining the capabilities of the AV and Tuner units while also allowing for the connection of high definition sources with the use of an accessory cable adding component and digital audio inputs. Along with a line of accessories, including the SlingLink power line network interface and additional software for mobile devices, Sling Media's products became more diverse in order to appeal to consumers in the electronics market.

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Rob Strickland

Rob Strickland.jpg

Rob Strickland joined T-Mobile USA as the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer in January 2007. Before T-Mobile, Rob served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Echostar Communications Corporation, best known for its DISH Network technology. At Echostar, Rob was involved in helping to automate call centers by creating a voice recognition system.

In addition to his most recent role at Echostar, Rob served as the President and Chief Operations Officer at Silas Technologies, the Chief Technology Officer at Landmark Communications, Inc, CIO at Teradyne, and CIO at Continental Cablevision/Media One and CIO of the Harvard Business School. He holds a BA in mathematics from Brandeis University.

In 2008, he was named one of the top 100 Information Technology leaders by Computerworld and was listed in spot number 16 in the Information Week Top 500. In 2006, he was the Winner of CIO 100 award while at EchoStar.

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G4 Media

G4 Media, Inc. is the parent company of G4, a 24-hour cable and satellite channel originally dedicated to video games. Comcast holds a controlling interest in G4 Media, with EchoStar holding a minority interest of approximately 12%.

In early 2004, G4 Media (at the time owned entirely by Comcast) announced the purchase of a controlling interest in TechTV. On May 28, 2004, G4 and TechTV merged into a hybrid network called G4techTV. EchoStar (which held a minority interest in TechTV) retained partial ownership of the combined entity.

The new network leaned more toward the gaming programming that was featured on G4 than the technology side that was featured on TechTV, prompting petitions and complaints from disaffected TechTV fans. On February 15, 2005, TechTV was officially dropped from the network name in the United States, leaving only three TechTV shows, X-Play, Anime Unleashed (removed indefinitely as of March 2006) and The Screen Savers (later rebranded as Attack of the Show!). The network is currently called G4, and now focuses on general male interest programming.

G4 Media holds a 33.3% minority interest in G4techTV Canada, G4's Canadian counterpart. G4techTV Canada has opted to retain the TechTV brand.

On October 13, 2006, Comcast announced that it will consolidate G4, bringing it under E! Networks. G4's executive staff will move into E!'s Los Angeles offices and layoffs may occur.

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FTA receiver

A Viewsat Xtreme FTA receiver

A free-to-air or FTA Receiver is a satellite TV receiver designed solely to receive unencrypted broadcasts. Modern decoders are typically compliant with the MPEG-2/DVB-S and more recently the MPEG-4/DVB-S2 standard for digital television, while older FTA receivers relied on analog satellite transmissions which have declined rapidly in recent years. Overwhelmingly, FTA receivers are manufactured in South Korea and China.

In some countries, it is common for mainstream broadcasters to broadcast their channels over satellite as FTA. Most notably, in the German-speaking countries, most of the main terrestrial broadcasters, such as ARD Das Erste, ZDF and ORF offer FTA satellite broadcasts, as do some of the more recent satellite rivals such as Sat. 1, 3sat and RTL. The satellites on which these channels broadcast, at Astra's 19.2° east position, are receivable throughout most of Europe.

In the UK, three of the original five terrestrial broadcasters, BBC1, BBC2 and ITV1 broadcast FTA on digital satellite, including many of their regional variations. However, in some countries, it is not the norm for mainstream channels to broadcast on FTA satellite television.

FTA receivers are sold in the United States and Canada for the purpose of viewing unencrypted free-to-air satellite channels, the bulk of which are located on Galaxy 25 (97°W, Ku band). This provides an alternative option for various ethnic communities to watch television from their native countries without subscribing to an often expensive programming package from a major satellite TV provider. The distinctive one-metre Ku-band dishes are becoming a common fixture in ethnic communities as, in some cases, programming offered is not available by any other means.

There is also a substantial amount of Christian-based programming available on several satellites over both North America and Europe, such as The God Channel, JCTV, EWTN and 3ABN.

The PBS Satellite Service offers educational programming on Ku band DVB. As of 2008, Ku-band PBS broadcasts are being moved to AMC 21 (125°W). As there is no standard MPEG audio on most of these channels, the AC3-only feeds require a Dolby Digital-capable receiver. They are otherwise free. Channels include PBS-HD/PBS-X as well as various secondary programmes normally carried on digital subchannels of PBS terrestrial member stations.

The main PBS New York feed is absent from the free-to-air version of the PBS satellite service to afford local terrestrial member stations a chance to broadcast material before it becomes available on PBS-X or PBS-HD. Typically, PBS-X feeds carry programmes (except news) a day later than the main terrestrial PBS network.

Many of these channels carry programming from major network television affiliates.

Equity Broadcasting uses one Ku-band (Galaxy 18, 123°W) and one C-band satellite feed as a key part of its Equity C.A.S.H. centralcasting operation; many small UHF local stations are fed from one central point in Little Rock, Arkansas via free-to-air satellite. Most are members of secondary terrestrial networks, including both US English language and Spanish language broadcasters, and content from satellite broadcasts often feeds over-the-air digital subchannels of terrestrial stations. Programming such as the Retro Television Network or Retro Jams had been provided at various times; music video broadcasters Mas Música and The Tube were formerly available at 123°W before being taken over (Mas Música is now MTV3) or ceasing operations.

Similarly, unencrypted Ku band satellite television was also used temporarily in the aftermath of 2005's Hurricane Katrina as a means to feed NBC programming into New Orleans from the studios of an out-of-state broadcaster; the feeds contained the content, branding and station identification of the damaged New Orleans station in a form suitable for direct feed to a transmitter (with no further studio processing) in the target market.

Paradoxically, many Equity-owned local UHF stations obtain solid national satellite coverage despite small terrestrial LPTV footprints that barely cover their nominal home communities. In many cases, this brings smaller networks and Spanish-language broadcasting to communities which otherwise would have no free access to this content.

As television market statistics for these stations from firms such as Nielsen Media Research are based on counting viewership within the footprint of the corresponding terrestrial signal, television ratings severely underestimate or fail to estimate the number of households receiving programming such as Univisión from FTA satellite feeds.

Over-the-air digital TV signals do not reach very far outside the city in which they are transmitted. FTA Receivers can be used in rural locations as a fairly reliable source of television without subscribing to cable or a major satellite provider. Equity Broadcasting and other programmers use some of the nearly 30 North American satellites to transmit their feeds for internal purposes.

These unencrypted feeds can then be received by anyone with the proper decoder. DXers also use FTA receivers to watch the numerous wild feeds that are present on many of those satellites.

In theory, a viewer in Glendive, Montana (the smallest North American TV market) could receive what little local CBS and NBC programming is available terrestrially, alongside a Ku-band free-to-air dish for additional commercial networks (such as individual ABC and Fox TV affiliates at 123°W) and educational programming (PBS Satellite Service at 125°W). Unfortunately, there is no assurance that any individual FTA broadcast will remain available or that those which do remain will continue broadcast in a compatible format.

The widespread popularity of FTA receivers is due in part to their use of the same technology employed by Echostar's Dish Network and BCE's Bell TV. Often, hackers are able to reverse-engineer the software and add the necessary coding to allow unauthorized reception of all channels offered by Dish Network, including premium movies and pay-per-view. Manufacturers, importers, and distributors of FTA receivers do not condone this practice and some will not sell to individuals who they believe will be using their products for this purpose. Use of third-party software usually voids any warranties.

Unlike traditional methods of pirate decryption that involve altered smart cards used with satellite receivers manufactured and distributed by the provider, piracy involving FTA receivers require only an update to the receiver's firmware. Electronic countermeasures that disable access cards have no effect on FTA receivers because they are not capable of being updated remotely. The firmware in receivers themselves cannot be overwritten with malicious code via satellite as provider-issue receivers are. The receivers also have the advantage of being able to receive programming from multiple providers plus legit FTA DVB broadcasts which are not part of any package, a valuable capability which is conspicuously absent from most "package receivers" sold by DBS providers. DVB-S is an international standard; the restriction that a "Bell TV" receiver is somehow not interchangeable with a "Dish Network" receiver (the same box) and not interchangeable with a "Globecast receiver" (also DVB) is an artificial one created by providers and not respected by either pirates or legit unencrypted-FTA viewers.

Periodically, a provider will change the processes in which its encryption information is sent. When this happens, third-party coders will release an updated altered version of the FTA receiver software on dozens of internet forums. Usually, this happens within hours to days after the countermeasure is implemented, although some countermeasures have allowed the encryption to remain secure for as long as several weeks. The receivers, meanwhile, remain able to receive unencrypted DVB-S broadcasts and (for some HDTV models) terrestrial ATSC programming. The same is not true of standard subscription TV receivers, where unsubscribing from a pay-TV package causes loss of all channels.

The use of renewable security allows providers to send new smart cards to all subscribers as existing compromised encryption schemes (such as Nagravision 1 and 2) are replaced with new schemes (currently Nagravision 3). This "card swap" process can provide pay-TV operators with some effective control over pirate decryption, but at the expense of replacing smart cards in all existing subscribed receivers. While this approach is used by most providers, deployments tend to be slowed due to cost.

While smart-card piracy often involves individuals who re-program access cards for others (usually for a price), piracy using FTA receivers involves third-party software that is relatively easy to upload to the receiver and can even be uploaded using a USB device, network or serial link (a process called "flashing"). Most such firmware is distributed freely on the Internet. Websites that third-party coders use to share this software often have anywhere from 50,000 to over 200,000 registered users.

Another method of pirate decryption that has become popular recently is known as Internet Key Sharing (IKS). This is accomplished by an Ethernet cable hooked to the receiver that allows updated decryption keys to be fed to the unit directly from the internet. The DVB-S common scrambling system and the various conditional access systems are based on the use of smartcards which generate a continuous stream of cryptographic keys usable to decrypt one channel on a receiver. A key-sharing scheme operates by redistributing these keys in real-time to multiple receivers in an unlimited number of locations so that one valid smartcard may serve large numbers of viewers.

This is the main control panel that allows the user to configure the receiver to interact with LNBs, switches, motors, and other equipment. The user selects the LNB type, local oscillator frequency, appropriate DiSEqC switch port, and motor configuration. If all the settings are correct for the appropriate equipment, a signal bar showing strength and quality will appear. At that point, the receiver can be used to scan the satellite to detect channels.

There are 63 satellites in orbit over the Americas, 57 over Europe and a further 64 over Asia, a significant number of which will be receivable from any one location. Each of these has a different number of active transponders. Each transponder operates at a different frequency and symbol rate. Many FTA receivers are designed to detect any active transponders and any channels on those transponders. Because they are designed to do this without needing to be pre-programmed with the transponder information for each satellite, this process is referred to as a "blind" scan-- as opposed to a satellite scan, which scans according to pre-set transponder values.

Once a scan is complete, the channels can often be sorted alphabetically, in satellite/transponder order, or in scrambled/unscrambled order. Additionally, third-party software often allows the option of sorting by the channel's Station Identification (SID) number. This is so that the individual channels can be numbered in a way that mimics the lineup of Dish Network or Bell TV. Channels can also be renamed or deleted, either in an on-screen menu or with external software.

The most popular software used to configure and sort channels is a database program called Channel Master, which allows the user to name, number, sort, and delete channels and then save them in a format that can then be written to the receiver. The file created that contains channel information is called a channel list. Many older and discontinued receiver models are supported in Channel Master, though most newer and less popular ones are not.

Most FTA receivers give the user the option of configuring the language, aspect ratio, TV type (NTSC/PAL), and time settings.

Typically, most FTA receivers can accept an MPEG2 video stream in either PAL-compatible (640 x 574) or NTSC-compatible (640 x 480) image formats and convert it for display on either a PAL or NTSC monitor. There is some loss of image data due to NTSC's lower resolution. Some receivers also support output to SCART, S-video or component video.

All FTA receivers contain a parental lock feature.

Unlike package receivers promoted for use with a limited number of satellites controlled by an individual pay-TV provider, an FTA receiver is designed to be capable of receiving any free signals from all available satellites visible in a given location. To fully exploit this capability, most Ku-band FTA receivers will control a DiSEqC motor which can rotate a single dish to view one of any number of multiple satellites.

An alternate approach of pointing a fixed dish (or LNB) at each satellite to be received (then feeding the individual signals into a remotely-controlled switch) is compatible both with standard FTA receivers and the more-restricted pay-TV "package receiver". The most common standard for use with FTA receivers is a DiSEqC switch which normally allows automatic selection of signal from four satellites. A simpler two-position remote switch operated by a 22kHz tone is also occasionally used for North American reception, but this configuration is not compatible with European-style universal LNB's which use the tone internally for band-switching.

A toroidal antenna may be used with multiple LNB's to receive multiple satellites in various locations over a 40° arc. Unlike the single parabola of a standard satellite dish antenna (which is best adapted to focus one target satellite to a single point), the toroidal antenna uses a reflector pair to focus multiple signals to a line.

Individual adjacent or near-adjacent pairs (such as Glorystar on 97°W and 101°W) may be received, due to their close proximity, with two LNB's on what otherwise looks geometrically to be a standard parabolic dish. The outputs from these individual LNB's may then be fed through a switch to a receiver, providing access to all signals on both satellites.

An on-screen program schedule can be accessed that also contains descriptive information about a selected program. The availability and quality of programme guide information varies widely between broadcasters (some provide nothing) and the ability of receivers to collect and store guide listings from multiple sources is also variable. Receivers with more memory (or storage on external devices such as hard drives) are often, but not always, better equipped to store and retrieve on-screen programme listings. In some cases, a receiver with both satellite and terrestrial tuners will provide on-screen guide support for one mode of operation but not both.

A few high-end receivers feature the ability to record programs, pause, and review live TV. Often, a hard drive is not included when the unit is purchased, which allows the user to install any desired hard drive. Many newer units are equipped with a USB 2.0 port that allows the user to connect a portable hard drive; at least one unit (the Pansat 9200HD) uses external SATA as PVR media storage.

Some receivers, such as TripleDragon or Dream Multimedia's Linux-based DreamBox series, provide local area network interfaces. This allows the use of network attached storage to provide PVR-like functions (some of these models also include internal hard drives or USB) and allows the unit to be controlled or updated via network.

The use of desktop personal computer cards to deploy DVB-S or terrestrial digital television tuners allows the computer's hard drive and network storage to be used to archive electronic programme guide information and recorded television programming. Most or all of the base PVR functionality becomes available by default at little or no added cost.

Most standard FTA receivers support DVB-S, MPEG2, 480i or 576i SDTV received as unencrypted QPSK from Ku-band satellites.

Rarely supported by stand-alone FTA receivers, but likely to be supported by FTA DVB-S tuners for personal computers, are MPEG4 and MPEG2 4:2:2, variants on the MPEG compression algorithm which provide more compression and more colour resolution, respectively. As personal computers handle much of the video decompression in software, any codec could be easily substituted on the desktop.

High-definition television is also beginning to be supported by a limited-number of high-end receivers; at least one high-end stand-alone receiver (the Quali-TV 1080IR) supports both 4:2:2 and HDTV.

4:2:2 is a version of MPEG2 compression used in network feeds such as NBC on Ku band (103°W). Some broadcast networks use 4:2:2 encoding for otherwise-unencrypted transmission of sports events to local terrestrial stations, as it provides slightly better colour than the standard 4:2:0 compression.

In some cases (such as the C-band version of the NBC-HD feeds) support for additional standards (such as DVB-S2, MPEG4 and 8PSK) will also become necessary to receive a viewable signal. The use of newer means of modulation and compression is likely to become more widespread for high-definition television feeds, in order to partially offset the larger amount of transponder space required to deliver high-definition video to television stations.

In countries using the DVB-T and DVB-C standards for terrestrial digital television and digital cable, a few higher-end receivers provide an option to install terrestrial DVB tuners either alongside or in place of the stock DVB-S tuner. Dream Multimedia's DreamBox series, for instance, supports this in a few selected models.

In countries using ATSC, inclusion of terrestrial tuners in DVB-S FTA receivers is rare, with one key exception. Some HDTV FTA receivers incorporate terrestrial ATSC tuners. These typically do not support ATSC's unique major.minor digital subchannel numbering scheme or the on-screen programme guide but are capable of displaying (or timeshifting) local HDTV with no loss in detail. Channels from these receivers are numbered using FTA conventions, by which the first channel found is most often arbitrarily given channel 1 as its virtual channel number.

A few high-end receivers feature HDTV. In North America, these often include an ATSC over-the-air digital television tuner and MPEG-4 support. A few HDTV units allow for the addition of a UHF remote control. However, an 8PSK module can be installed in place of the UHF remote and allows the receiver to decode the format used on most Dish Network high definition programming.

These units are superior to DVD recorders for time-shifting HDTV programming, as most DVD units down-convert OTA HDTV signals to standard-definition to match the limitations of the DVD standard. An HDTV FTA receiver with ATSC capability and USB storage can record one channel from a terrestrial or satellite DTV transport stream entirely losslessly, although the on-screen guide for terrestrial reception is often limited and viewing or storage of analogue NTSC channels is not supported.

While significant amounts of programming remain free, there is no assurance to viewers that any individual broadcast currently available free-to-air will remain so. Some will inevitably move to incompatible signal formats (such as MPEG 4:2:2, 8PSK, DVB-S2 or MPEG4), change from free to encrypted, move to different satellite locations (often across bands, where C-band reception requires much larger antennae) or shut down entirely.

The onus is on receiver vendors to voluntarily indicate, whenever they use lists of currently-available FTA programming for marketing purposes, that free channels frequently may appear, move and disappear, often on a permanent basis, with no advance notice. One key uncertainty for North American viewers as of 2009 is the fate of Equity Broadcasting, a major source of small local terrestrial stations on free satellite television. Equity filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on December 9, 2008 and buyers were being sought for Equity's terrestrial stations. The fate of the corresponding free-to-air signals remains undetermined.

Many receivers will provide options for hardware expansion (such as to add 8PSK reception or DVB Common Interface TV subscription cards) and firmware upgrade (either officially or from nominally third-party sources). Most often, once the individual receiver model is discontinued, this support and expandability rapidly disappears from all sources. The migration of existing feeds to formats such as MPEG4, HDTV or DVB-S2 (which many current receivers do not support) may also result in viewers losing existing free programming as equipment becomes rapidly obsolescent. Unlike digital terrestrial set-top boxes, most standard-definition DVB-S receivers do not down-convert HD programming and produce no usable video for these signals.

There have also been incidents where existing receiver designs have been "cloned" or copied by competing manufacturers; often a manufacturer will reduce support for a widely-copied receiver design. In some cases malicious firmware has been released, ostensibly in the same format as existing third-party firmware, in an attempt to interfere with the further use of a widely cloned receiver's design.

Because FTA receivers are sold specifically for free-to-air use and do not include any illegal software when shipped or sold, purchasing one is not illegal. The market for ethnic and religious channels that do not require subscriptions is significant enough for them to have a legitimate use. Thus, combatting piracy involving FTA receivers has been difficult using legal means.

In July 2007, Echostar filed a lawsuit against Viewtech, an Oceanside, California-based importer of the popular Viewsat brand, alleging that Viewtech intentionally makes it possible for third-party engineers to write software that allows unauthorized access to Dish Network programming. Among the reasons cited in the lawsuit to support that claim is the fact that, according to a legal brief, "Free-to-air channels do not offer the same type of popular programming found in subscription television packages (e.g. HBO, ESPN, etc.). Instead, 'free-to-air' television channels typically include limited religious, ethnic, business, music, information, and advertising content". According to Echostar, this type of programming is not widely popular enough to justify the estimated 2 million FTA receivers that have been sold in recent years. Echostar also alleges that authorized Viewsat dealers frequently advertise on websites used to share information on how to gain unauthorized access to programming.

Viewtech has since filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, saying that the company plays no active role in the theft of Dish Network programming. Viewtech says that manufacturers and distributors cannot be found liable for the piracy of end-users. The company also claims that Echostar cannot sue Viewtech for violating copyright law because Echostar does not hold rights to the content it delivers.

Echostar has since filed similar lawsuits against Panarex, a North Hollywood, California-based company that imports the Pansat brand and Freetech, a San Jose, California-based company that imports the Coolsat brand.

Lawsuits have also been issued against individuals as well. Robert Ward (allegedly known on FTA web forums as thedssguy, Veracity, and TDG) is named in Case number 8:08-cv-00590-JSM-TBM in Tampa, Florida. Ward's attorney has filed motions to dismiss two counts of the suit, alleging wrongful conduct. A lawsuit has also been filed against Andrew Bates (known as Snaggs) in Canada. A lawsuit against a person using the handle BlondeBitch is filed in case #- 08-CL-007372 by Bell TV and 08-CL-007373 by Echostar.

David Fuss, the owner of ftaworld.com, a popular online FTA receiver store based in Toronto, Ontario, was raided under an Anton Piller order in April 2008. Fuss is alleged to have provided financial backing for a number of FTA receiver brands, including Ariza, Cooltec, Homesat, and Pantec (many of which are knockoffs of the most popular Coolsat, Viewsat, and Pansat models). He is also alleged to have provided third-party software for those brands that allowed customers to receive Dish Network and Bell TV programming without paying subscription fees.

July 7 2008, Viewtech filed a Counter Claim, Case 3:07-cv-01273-W-AJB, against Echostar, now known as DISH Network, an Anti-Trust suit, alledging wrongful conduct on the part of Echostar, citing numerous violations of, Sherman Anti-Trust Act, Clayton Act, Cartwright Act, as well as California Business and Professions Code, and Trade Libel. Viewtech also charges Dish Network with selling ethnic programming that would otherwise, be free of charge with an FTA receiver unit, despicable business practices, unfair competition, and violation of California's Unfair Trade Practices Act. Viewtech has demanded a Jury Trial, praying for relief, for restitution, statutory penalties and injunctive relief from these violations.

Echostar LLC, now known as Dish Network LLC has filed for an extension of time to respond to the above allegations, and a Jury Trial is to be scheduled sometime in the future.

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Source : Wikipedia