Dish again pursuing millions from state

Satellite broadcaster contends law giving cable competitors tax exemption violates Commerce Clause

A legal tax battle between satellite TV providers and the state continued on Wednesday when Dish Network sued the state for nearly $2.3 million.

Dish and competitor DirectTV have been wrapped in a decade-long lawsuit with the state after the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation that gave cable providers a tax exemption on the first $15 of each subscriber’s bill.

The satellite providers claim that law amounts to unlawful protectionism of the cable industry and violates the Commerce Clause. The cable industry lobbied for the exemption, arguing that its companies provide thousands of jobs in Tennessee and play a vital role in local economies while satellite providers simply beam in signals from outer space. 

The most recent suit by Dish calls for the state to refund the company nearly $2.3 million in sales tax from 2008.

Court filings from the 2003 lawsuit indicate that the parties both entered motions for summary judgment in April, but the court hasn't issued a ruling. An unopposed motion to ascertain the status of the case was filed in October.

“Such a ruling allow the parties to fully and finally resolve the longstanding issues regarding Tennessee's sales tax on pay-television service,” the motion reads.