DISH Network was dealt a blow in its quest to overturn provisions of the 2010 Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA) that pertain to the high-definition (HD) carriage of PBS public television stations by direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers, as the Ninth Circuit Court upheld a district court ruling denying a preliminary injunction against enforcement of STELA’s HD carriage mandate pending appeal. The case spotlights STELA Section 207 which accelerates the timetable by which DBS operators must offer “qualified noncommercial educational television stations” in HD format to their subscribers. Although the FCC had previously required DISH and rival DirecTV to adhere to a phased-in timetable that envisions the carriage of all TV channels in HD format by 2013, STELA mandated DBS carriage of 50% of non-commercial stations in HD by the end of 2010 and remaining noncommercial stations by the end of 2011 in all markets in which DISH offers any station in HD. (DirecTV, however, was not affected by that provision as DirecTV already carries non-commercial stations in HD.) DISH, which sued last July to turn back the HD signal mandate on First Amendment grounds, requested but was denied a preliminary injunction by the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas which decreed that the statutory provision in question “is designed to keep PBS competitive with other local outlets, not to regulate content.” Agreeing with the district court, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit said, “it was reasonable for Congress to conclude that allowing satellite carriers to delay offering PBS in HD would lead to anticompetitive results,” considering “that Congress recognized whether a program is offered in HD affects whether viewers watch it.” Denying injunctive relief, the court further predicted that the government would “succeed at trial in demonstrating that Congress made a reasonable determination based on substantial evidence when it determined that Section 207 was necessary.”