This excerpt taken from the DTV 10-K filed Mar 10, 2006.
Our subsidiaries depend on others to produce programming and programming costs are increasing.
We depend on third parties to provide us with programming services, including third parties who are our affiliates and third parties controlled by competitors. Our ability to compete successfully will depend on our ability to continue to obtain desirable programming and deliver it to our subscribers at competitive prices. Our programming agreements generally have remaining terms ranging from less than one to up to ten years and contain various renewal and cancellation provisions. We may not be able to renew these agreements on favorable terms, or at all, or these agreements may be cancelled prior to expiration of their original terms. If we are unable to renew any of these agreements or the other parties cancel the agreements, we may not be able to obtain substitute programming, or if we are able to obtain such substitute programming, it may not be comparable in quality or cost to our existing programming.
In addition, many of our programming agreements contain annual price increases. When offering new programming, or upon expiration of existing contracts, programming suppliers have historically increased the rates they charge us for programming, increasing our costs. We expect this practice to continue. Increases in programming costs could cause us to increase the rates that we charge our subscribers, which could in turn cause subscribers to terminate their subscriptions or potential new subscribers to refrain from subscribing to our service. Furthermore, we may be unable to pass programming cost increases on to our subscribers, which could have a material adverse effect on our earnings or cash flow.
The FCC recently adopted rules requiring us to negotiate in good faith with broadcast stations seeking carriage outside of the mandatory carriage regime described above. The rules for "retransmission consent" negotiations, which are similar to those that have applied to broadcast stations for years, require us to comply with certain indicia of good faith negotiation, as well as to demonstrate good faith under a "totality of the circumstances" test. Failure to comply with these rules could subject us to administrative sanctions and other penalties.