To the dismay of the broadcast networks, a U.S. district court judge ruled that a lease agreement between EchoStar and the National Programming Service (NPS) that enables NPS to offer distant broadcast network services to EchoStar subscribers does not violate the terms of an injunctive order that cut off distant network services provided by EchoStar to 800,000 customers nationwide. Affiliates of the ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox broadcast networks vowed to appeal the ruling handed down late last month by Miami District Court Judge William Dimitrouleas—the same judge who issued the injunction that went into effect on December 1. Last fall, Dimitrouleas handed down the injunction at the behest of the networks and in compliance with the directives of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which determined that EchoStar’s distant network service violated tenets of the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act that prohibit retransmission of distant network signals to subscribers who are capable of receiving the signals of local affiliates over-the-air. However, days before the injunction went into effect, EchoStar agreed to lease Ku-band transponder capacity to NPS, which said it would use the leased capacity to enable some affected EchoStar subscribers to regain access to distant network signals. After a U.S. magistrate upheld the arrangement on December 15 as “nothing more than an equipment lease,” Dimitrouleas rejected the broadcasters’ demand that EchoStar be held in contempt for “acting in concert” with NPS to skirt the terms of that order. Agreeing with the magistrate’s finding that “EchoStar is not only out of the prohibited business, but it has no part of NPS’s distant network programming,” Dimitrouleas described the broadcasters’ complaint as “an attempt at another bite of the apple.”