Dish Network: No Room For Voom

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In the midst of ongoing litigation, Dish Network has dropped 10 of the 15 Rainbow Media Voom HD networks and plans to dump the rest, officials said Tuesday.

The satellite provider overnight took down much of the Voom HD suite, some 10 services, according to Multichannel News blogger Scott Greczkowski, who runs the Web site www.satelliteguys.us and first reported the drops.

During a first-quarter earnings call Tuesday, Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen said he’ll be dropping the other five Voom networks, as well.

Dish Network believes Voom is in breach of their carriage deal, Ergen told analysts, confirming that it’s already dropped two-thirds of the Voom services. 

Dish Network “will be taking down the rest as soon as we can,” according to Ergen.

“We believe we can replace those channels with other channels that have more value for our customers,” he said.

Dish Network deleted HDNews, UltraHD, TreasuresHD, WorldSport HD, Voom’s HD Movies channel, Filmfest HD, Gameplay HD, Rush HD, Animania HD and Family Room HD.

In response to Dish Network’s deletions, a Rainbow spokesman said, “EchoStar's decision to drop the Voom channels is unjustified and, we believe, is a violation of our distribution agreement. We are intent on enforcing our legal rights in court. Because the litigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."

On the call, Ergen said the Voom HD drops will make way for Dish Network to add the more popular HD networks it is bringing to its roster this week, including Disney HD, Sci Fi HD, CNN HD and Bravo HD.

Those HD networks will help make Dish Network more competitive with DirecTV’s HD offering, according to Ergen.

“I think arguably people would say 15 Voom channels probably weren’t as impressive as Disney or Sci Fi or Bravo or CNBC or CNN or TBS or TNT, those kind of channels that we now have up (in HD),” he said.

On Monday, Dish Network issued a press release saying it was adding 22 HDTV services.

Now, on one of the vacant Voom channel slots, Dish Network is running a crawl that says, “Dish Network is excited to announce the addition of over 22 new high definition channels which will provide our customers top rated programming in HD. As a result of these additions, we removed some channels that are less popular with our customers.”

Dish Network had moved all 15 Voom HD networks off of its most widely distributed HDTV package, Dish HD Essential, after a court ruling last week.

After New York Superior Court Judge Richard Lowe refused to issue a temporary injunction against Dish Network, the satellite provider moved the Voom HD suite to a tier, DishHD Ultimate, which is an additional $10 on top of the $10 for the basic HD package, DishHD Essential.

Earlier this year Voom sued EchoStar, arguing that the distributor was threatening to move it to a tier and void their affiliation agreement.

Judge Lowe refused to issue a temporary injunction, but Voom’s suit seeking a permanent injunction and declaratory judgment is still pending.

Apart from Dish Network, Voom’s only other distributor is Rainbow’s parent company Cablevision Systems. That carriage deal expires June 30.

In 2005 EchoStar, now Dish Network, bought Voom’s satellite from Cablevision for $200 million. An EchoStar affiliate, EchoStar Media Holdings, got a 20% stake in Voom HD as part of that sale. The Voom-Dish Network carriage agreement was part of that transaction.

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