Satellite

AMC: Dish Drop Tied to Voom

5/07/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Soon after a New York appellate
court ruled that ongoing litigation over the
now-defunct Voom HD service should head to
trial, Dish Network has said it plans to remove
Voom parent AMC
Networks’ channels
from its air.

The programmer
said the two
issues are related,
but the satellite
operator contends
it’s d ropping
AMC’s channels
because they’ve
lost viewers and
are too expensive.

AMC said last Friday that Dish, the secondbiggest
U.S. satellite-TV provider (about 14 million
subscribers), had expressed an intent to
drop AMC, Sundance Channel, IFC and WeTV
by the end of June.

Days earlier, on April 26, the Appellate Division
of the New York State Supreme Court denied
Dish’s application to further appeal a prior
trial court decision sanctioning it for bad-faith
destruction of evidence in the case, AMC noted.

Dish said AMC “distorts the facts of the current
situation and incorrectly attempts to tie together
two separate issues.”

Dish said its contract for the AMC channels
ends in June, “and we have decided not to renew.”
It said the decision was “solely dependent
on their high renewal cost when compared to
their low viewership. Dish will make alternative
high-value channels available to our customers
as replacements.”

The satellite carrier said AMC’s networks
“overall 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.”

AMC, in rebuttal, invoked popular AMC series
Mad Men, The Walking Dead and Breaking
Bad
. “In fact, AMC’s
The Walking Dead
is the No. 1 scripted
drama with Dish
subscribers,” according
to the programmer,
which
spun out of Cablevision
Systems’ ownership
in 2011. “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.”

Litigation between the two companies,
dating back to 2008, involves the suite of networks
known as Voom HD (a subsidiary of
Rainbow Media, the predecessor company
to AMC Networks).

Dish had agreed to carry the HD channels,
but in 2008 terminated the carriage contract.
Voom HD sued for contract breach, seeking
more than $2.5 billion in damages.

In a pre-trial decision, the trial court judge
ruled that Dish had destroyed evidence in the
case and cited a “pattern of egregious conduct
and questionable — and, at times, blatantly
improper — litigation tactics.”

The Appellate Division’s April 26 action affirmed the trial court ruling, letting the case
be set for trial. The court said Dish “acted in
bad faith in destroying electronically stored
evidence.”

March