A spokesman for EchoStar Communications Corp. said Friday that the company
still plans to drop ABC Family.
In court papers filed Thursday, EchoStar vice president of programming
Michael Schwimmer accused ABC Family parent The Walt Disney Co. with threatening
to 'march on Washington' against the proposed EchoStar-Hughes Electronics Corp.
merger unless Dish agreed to keep ABC Family on its lineup by Jan. 1.
Earlier in December, Disney, through International Family Entertainment Inc.,
filed suit in California seeking a temporary restraining order to keep the
channel on Dish Network's lineup until the case could be settled in court.
Schwimmer insisted that EchoStar's intent was not to negotiate a better price
for the channel, but to drop it due to its multiple changes in ownership over
the past five years.
EchoStar has already created millions of pieces of consumer literature with
its new programming lineup, which does not list ABC Family.
In its legal filings Thursday, EchoStar stated that any loyal ABC Family
viewers could switch video services to continue to receive the programming.
The court must rule by New Year's Eve if ABC Family is to win the restraining