EchoStar, DirecTV Reach Deals at the Wire


Several temporary cease-fires between programmers and distributors were declared Tuesday involving EchoStar Communications Corp., DirecTV Inc. and several networks they were threatening to drop.

EchoStar signed a "multimonth extension" to continue carrying a bundle of Turner Broadcasting System Inc. networks on its Dish Network, EchoStar spokesman Steve Caulk said. This will give both sides time to try to nail down new carriage deals after their current affiliation agreements expire at the end of Wednesday, Dec. 31.

The networks involved -- which averted being dropped -- included Cable News Network, CNNfn, Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies, Boomerang, Turner South and CNN Headline News.

And the other direct-broadcast satellite provider, DirecTV, said Tuesday that it will not drop Trio at the end of the year. A DirecTV spokeswoman said contract talks will continue between the DBS provider and the pop-culture network after their affiliation deal expires Dec. 31.

"We are still in negotiations with the Universal Television Group [Trio’s owner], and we will not be turning off Trio on the 31st or the 1st [Jan. 1]," the spokeswoman said.

DirecTV had threatened to pull the plug on Trio, which would have been a big blow to the network since more than one-half of its 20 million subscribers come from the DBS provider.

And earlier this week, EchoStar, in last-minute contract talks with Viacom Inc., agreed to extend carriage deals involving that company’s networks until Jan. 7 so that they can keep talking.