DISH Network and Voom reach settlement


Dish NetworkDISH Network has settled all of its pending litigation with Voom HD Holdings. The $2.4 billion legal battle between Cablevision Systems and Dish in New York State Supreme Court was over Dish working to get out of a contract covering a HD channel package offered by Voom HD, then a unit of Cablevision. In the four-year-old suit, Voom HD sued Dish Network, alleging it violated a 15-year contract to carry HD programming.

The settlement includes a return of AMC’s networks and award-winning shows like “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” to Dish’s viewers starting 10/21, according to AMC’s statement. Dish had dropped AMC’s channels in July, saying that they didn’t deliver the ratings to justify their price.

Dish carried the Voom channels for two years, but HD content became cheaper and more widely available for popular channels such as ESPN. Meanwhile, Dish rival DirecTV increased the number of HD channels it carried and slashed the cost for its customers, making Dish desperate to get out of its expensive agreement with Voom.

Voom HD is now a part of AMC Networks, which Cablevision spun out last year, so Dish blocked out AMC Networks from its 14 million customers in July.

Terms of the settlement call for DISH Network to pay $700 million in cash. As part of the agreement, DISH will receive 500 MHz of wireless multichannel video distribution and data service (“MVDDS”) spectrum licenses that cover a population of 150 million in 45 DMAs including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

As part of a separate, multi-year agreement, DISH will resume broadcast of the AMC channel Sunday, 10/21. The AMC channel will be carried on DISH channel 131.

“We are glad to have settled the case and reestablished our long-term relationships with AMC Networks and Cablevision,” said Dave Shull, senior vice president of Programming at DISH. “This multi-year deal delivers a fair value for both parties and includes digital expansion opportunities for AMC Networks’ programming.”

Other AMC Networks programming, including Sundance Channel, Fuse, WE tv and IFC, will return to DISH 11/1.

RBR-TVBR observation: It’s interesting that part of the settlement included MVDDS spectrum in those major markets. The spectrum is in the 12.2-12.7 GHz range, offering fast downloads but requiring other frequencies for uploads. MVDDS seen as a potential competitor to cable for delivery of triple play services (voice, data, video). Looks like Dish wants the option to offer more than television in those markets. It will likely offer the package at a lower rate than cable or fiber optic providers, without claiming the internet speed is faster, but just less expensive.