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AMC accuses Dish of retaliation
Long running dispute looks likely to head to trial
By: Jill Goldsmith
Posted On: May. 4, 2012
AMC Networks accused satcaster Dish of threatening to drop its channels in retaliation for a long running dispute between them that looks likely to head to trial.
AMC said in a statement Friday that New York's State Supreme Court late last month denied Dish's application to appeal a prior trial court decision sanctioning the company for destroying evidence in the case. "Within days of the denial of Dish's final avenue of pre-trial appeal, Dish informed AMC Networks of its intention to drop its award winning networks."
"It is unfortunate that, because of setbacks in an unrelated litigation, Dish even suggests that they might deny their customers access to some of their favorite networks and shows that are offered by every other major satellite and cable TV provider," said AMC, home to flagship AMC, IFC, WE and Sundance Channel. Top shows include "Mad Men," "The Walking Dead" and "Breaking Bad" on AMC and "Portlandia" on IFC.
Dish called AMC's release "self-serving" and said it opted not to renew AMC Nets at the end of June when the contract expires based solely "on their high renewal cost when compared to their low viewership."
Dish will make "alternative high-value channels available to our customers as replacements, it said.
"AMC Networks have had significant declines in viewership among Dish subscribers. AMC Networks' very limited popular programming is non-exclusive, and available to our customers through multiple other outlets such as Amazon.com, iTunes and Netflix," Dish said. The latter can be said of programming on many networks.
The dispute stems from 2008 when AMC said Dish reneged on a long-term contract to carry a suite channels called VOOM HD, an indirect subsidiary of AMC. AMC sued for $2.5 billion in damages. In a pre-trial ruling, the trial court judge ruled that DISH had destroyed electronically stored evidence.
Dish has said that VOOM promised to make substantial investments in compelling content but didn't so it decided to exercise its right to terminate the agreement. "The questions involved in the discovery dispute do not change those facts.