Charles Dolan May Take Stand Today in Voom Trial

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Opening arguments could begin as early as this afternoon in Voom HD’s long-awaited breach of contract suit against Dish Network, with cable legend and Voom founder Charles Dolan slated to take the stand later today.

Voom sued EchoStar Communications (now Dish Network)in 2008 after the satellite giant dropped the HD network for failing to live up to spending requirements. Voom disputed EchoStar’s claims – it said it had exceeded the requirements of the contract -- and is seeking $2.5 billion in damages.

Voom ceased operations shortly after being dropped by EchoStar. The service, which was created by Cablevision Systems founder and chairman Dolan, is currently housed with AMC Networks. If Voom was to prevail at trial the proceeds would be split evenly between AMC and Cablevision.

Most analysts expected the case to be settled before it ever got to trial. Earlier Voom won an adverse-inference recommendation from the court – which means jurors will be told that EchoStar destroyed evidence that would be material to the programmer’s case, a major advantage to Voom’s position. Several analysts had hoped that Dish would settle the case in conjunction with offering carriage to AMC Networks . Dish dropped AMC Networks in June in a heated carriage dispute that AMC claims is tied entirely to the Voom litigation.

The trial was expected to start on Sept. 18 but  has been delayed as attorneys for both sides found it difficult to seat a jury. However progress has been made and according to Cablevision, final jury selection was expected to continue for about 90 minutes on Friday, followed by opening arguments. Dolan was expected to take the stand in the afternoon.

While there is still a chance for an 11th hour settlement, other high profile executives are slated to take the stand in later days of the trial, which is expected to last four to six weeks. Those include Cablevision CEO James Dolan, Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen and AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan.