Court to Dish: Launch Universal Music Net

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Under court order, EchoStar Communications Corp. Friday will launch Universal Music Group’s fledgling 24-hour cable network, IMF: The International Music Feed.

Although litigation is ongoing between EchoStar and Universal Music regarding the new channel, earlier this week, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a temporary injunction mandating that the satellite provider roll out the start-up music-video network.

EchoStar will start carrying IMF on its Dish Network’s “America’s Top 120” tier at 5 p.m. (EST) Friday, according to a spokesman for the satellite company.

"While we are disappointed with the judge's ruling, we intend to comply fully with the order to carry the Vivendi Music Channel,” EchoStar said in prepared statement. “This was a preliminary hearing with no oral testimony and minimal evidence. We will continue to defend the case vigorously, and we look forward to a full trial on the merits."

IMF, based in Santa Monica, Calif., is being run by president Andy Schuon, who was a top programming executive at MTV: Music Television in the 1990s. The network has also recruited Greg Drebin, TechTV’s former senior vice president of programming and production, as its executive VP of programming and production.

“We are clearly pleased with the court’s ruling,” Schuon said in a prepared statement. “Our channel was founded on the belief that great music comes from all over the world. We are excited to bring a fresh global music perspective to U.S. television viewers.”

IMF will air music videos from both domestic and international artists. Its play list this week includes videos from Gwen Stefani, Eminem, U2, Nelly, Ashanti, Black Eyed Peas and Ludacris.

EchoStar and Universal Music are still embroiled in litigation over the new music network, a potential rival to dominant MTV and its music-oriented spinoffs.

Universal Music’s parent company, Vivendi Universal, filed suit in federal court against EchoStar earlier this year, alleging that the satellite service had breached a deal to carry the new music network.

That lawsuit is still pending, and the court found that Vivendi is “extremely likely to prevail on the merits.”

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