HDNet Settles Suit With DirecTV


In what Mark Cuban described as a “win-win,” HDNet has settled its lawsuit against DirecTV, which stemmed from the satellite provider’s plans to move the network to a new tier of “HD-only” channels, officials said Thursday.

The settlement keeps HDNet on DirecTV’s main HDTV platform, while HDNet Movies will migrate to the satellite distributor’s new $4.99 HD Extra Pack.

HDNet and DirecTV had been scheduled to appear before the 101st Judicial District Court in Dallas tomorrow, Friday, for a hearing. HDNet was seeking a temporary injunction to bar DirecTV from shifting it and sister service HDNet Movies out of the satellite company’s most widely distributed HDTV offering to the Extra Pack, which is scheduled to launch later this month.

But that hearing was cancelled Thursday, following the settlement, which appears to be a compromise of sorts.

In an e-mail Thursday, HDNet co-founder and owner Cuban said, “HDNet will be fully distributed and HDNet Movies will be available on the Extra Pack Tier. It's a win-win for all involved.”

Cuban, declining to offer more details, added, “It actually turned into a very amicable process and we were able to work things out rather quickly.”

DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer confirmed that the case had been settled, but declined to discuss the terms.

Back on Nov. 12, the court in Texas had issued a temporary restraining order that prevented DirecTV from moving Cuban’s two networks to the new tier, the DirecTV HD Extra Pack, that will only include six channels that don’t have standard-definition counterparts. That premium HDTV tier will cost subscribers $4.99 a month, on top of the $9.99 HD access fee that DirecTV charges for its newly expanded lineup of roughly 80 national HD networks.

DirecTV was slated to move Cuban’s two networks to the HD Extra Pack was Dec. 15.

HDNet lawyers, in a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, accused DirecTV of trying to “kill off” the network by moving it onto the HD Extra Pack, which is not likely to have as much penetration as HD Access.

In its suit, HDNet claimed that DirecTV would be violating it an affiliation contract if it shifted the network from the HD Access level.

In response, DirecTV had denied HDNet’s allegations, claiming it had no contractual obligations to offer HDNet in any basic programming package. DirecTV also argued that its $9.99 HD Access offering was not a program package or tier, but rather an equipment or technology fee.