Dish Network has stopped carrying four HD channels from Walt Disney Co. -- Disney Channel HD, Disney XD HD, ABC Family HD and ESPNews HD -- claiming that the programmer is asking for "significant" carriage fees, while Disney said Dish did not ever have a deal in place to carry those channels.
The standard-definition versions of those four channels are still available on Dish, as are ESPN HD and ESPN2 HD.
"Dish Network offers all customers ‘HD Free for Life,' which is possible because we are committed to negotiating fair contracts that allow us to keep our prices low," the satellite operator said in a statement. "That is why we could not agree to the significant fees requested by Disney and ESPN Networks for the HD feeds of Disney East, Disney XD, ESPNews and ABC Family."
Dish said it is continuing to negotiate with Disney and ESPN Networks and that it hopes "to reach a fair resolution." The "HD Free for Life" promotion waives Dish's usual $10 per month HD add-on fee for customers who commit to a two-year contract.
Disney responded in a statement, "The recent New York State Court ruling confirms our position that Dish Network is not entitled to carry ABC Family HD, Disney Channel HD, Disney XD HD and ESPNews HD without paying compensation. We hope that Dish will work with us to reach an agreement so that we can make these HD networks available to their customers."
The court ruling referenced was in a breach-of-contract suit Dish filed in 2008 against ESPN and ABC alleging Disney did not provide high-definition feeds of the Disney Channel, ESPNews, Toon and ABC Family. In March 2010, the New York court ruled that Dish owes Disney approximately $65 million under the applicable affiliation agreement. Dish is appealing that ruling.
Dish, separately, sued ESPN last year alleging that ESPN breached its contract by not extending the same carriage terms the programmer provided to Comcast and DirecTV. Back in 2002, the satellite operator dropped ESPN Classic for several months in a dispute with Disney that involved ABC Family.