Dish Sends OLN to Penalty Box

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Dish Network has dumped OLN’s puck.

In a dispute over the presentation of National Hockey League games, EchoStar Communications Corp.’s direct-broadcast satellite service said it has removed the Comcast Corp.-owned network from its air in the wake of demands from OLN to make it more widely available to its customer base.

Dish has been making OLN available to some 3 million of its 11.4 million subscribers, below the 40% threshold the service has been requesting.

Adelphia Communications Corp. recently agreed to make OLN more widely available, while Cablevision Systems Corp. continues to position the network on a $4.95-per-month sports tied that currently only counts 22,000 customers. Comcast has replaced the NHL games with other programming.

OLN and Cablevision are continuing to try to reach a resolution, according to an OLN spokeswoman.

As for Dish’s decision, senior vice president of programming Eric Sahl issued the following statement: “We work hard to provide choice for our customers and to keep prices low. Most of our customers have made the decision that they do not want to pay the additional cost of watching that channel.”

For its part, OLN offered this comment: “We are surprised and disappointed that Dish has unilaterally chosen to stop providing OLN to its customers and denied fans the opportunity to watch sports coverage on OLN. We are also disappointed that EchoStar cut off the ongoing discussions with OLN that were designed to bring OLN's great programming to Dish customers. Fortunately, those customers do have the ability to explore other cable and satellite options that carry OLN.”

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