Oxygen Takes LMN’s Place on Dish

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In the latest salvo in a bitter dispute, EchoStar Communications Corp. seems to have found a replacement for at least one of the two women’s networks it dropped New Year’s Day: Oxygen.

EchoStar announced Monday that it has reached a long-term carriage deal with Oxygen, which will take Lifetime Movie Network’s place on Dish Network’s “America’s Top 120” tier.

Dish dropped Lifetime Television and spinoff LMN New Year’s Day when both sides couldn’t come to terms on a renewal for a contract that expired Dec. 31. The fight is over the license-fee increase Lifetime is seeking.

Dish previously had not offered Oxygen which, like Lifetime, targets women.

Dish will offer its 12 million subscribers a free 30-day preview of Oxygen, on channel 127. Then Oxygen -- described in EchoStar’s press release as “the only television owned and operated by women” -- will be carried as part of the Top 120 and “Dish Latino Dos” tiers.

EchoStar and Lifetime officials haven’t had any negotiations since late last week, EchoStar spokesman Marc Lumpkin said Monday, and the two parties have seemed to have reached an impasse.

Lumpkin said EchoStar would still like to talk with Lifetime officials about carrying their core Lifetime channel again.

But he claimed that it is difficult to keep “a relationship with a programmer who uses politics instead of economics to reach a fair agreement.”

Last week, Lifetime mounted an ad campaign in several markets against EchoStar that rallied dozens of women’s groups to the programmer’s side, urging Dish to put the women’s network back on its lineup.

EchoStar then accused Lifetime of playing politics, which drew more rebukes from the women’s organizations.

With the Dish deal, Oxygen will be in 65 million homes.

In the press release describing the agreement, Dish senior vice president of programming Eric Sahl called Oxygen the “most requested channel over the last several years.”

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