Attorney: Voom Was 'Betrayed'

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Voom HD finally got its day in court Friday, claiming that the now defunct programmer was betrayed by its former partner EchoStar when the satellite giant severed their relationship in 2008.

Voom sued EchoStar (now Dish Network) in 2008, shortly after the programmer canceled a 15-year carriage agreement, claiming that Voom had failed to meet spending requirements for the channels.

Voom has countered that it exceeded those requirements.

In opening arguments on Sept. 28, both sides showed that the case is basically one of semantics. Attorneys for each company spent a good portion of their opening statements talking about the definition of service -- Voom believes it entails its entire business, while EchoStar claimed it meant only the programming it provided to the satellite giant.

That definition is key because of language that states Voom was required to spend $100 million per year on the service during the first five years of the agreement.

"This is a simple case of a big company, a sophisticated company, betraying its partner," Voom HD attorney and Gibson Dunn partner Orin Snyder said in his opening statement.

Morrison Foerster partner James Bennett, representing EchoStar, focused his opening statements on what he called Voom's failure to spend an agreed upon $100 million annually on HD programming. He claimed that prior to the agreement, Voom had easily spent more than that amount each year strictly on programming costs, but that declined substantially shortly after the agreement was signed, in part because Voom parent Cablevision Systems was considering shutting the service down. Bennett added that shortly after the EchoStar deal was signed, Cablevision stopped carrying the Voom channels.

But it appears that despite the rift the Voom channels had a positive effect on Dish -- Snyder said that prior to its carriage deal EchoStar had just 30,000 HD subscribers. By January 2008, the year Dish scuttled the deal, the satellite giant had more than 1.3 million HD customers.

The trial will continue in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Monday. Voom HD founder and Cablevision chairman Charles Dolan is expected to be the first witness to take the stand.

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