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Dish Scores One on ESPN

6 Mar, 2013 By: Doug McPherson

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – DISH Network has scored a small win over ESPN in court. A jury last week found the sports network guilty of one charge involving a 2005 carriage agreement with DISH Network. However, jurors cast aside several other claims, and DISH walked with just $4.9 million of $152 million in damages it was seeking.

DISH alleged ESPN offered several operators better deals for ESPN Deportes, its Spanish-language network. DISH said it deserved similar terms under “most favored nation” provisions.

The jury denied DISH’s largest claim of $79 million from its allegations that ESPN violated most-favored-nation provisions by offering Comcast the chance to move ESPN Classic to a sports tier in 2006, without giving it the same opportunity.

The jury also rejected a DISH claim involving a 2009 swap, where DISH moved ESPNU to its most highly penetrated tier and shifted Classic to a sports tier. DISH claimed it wouldn’t have had to make the move if it had been given the same rights as Comcast in 2006.

Other lesser claims included one charging ESPN with breach of contract for allowing Time Warner Cable to make online streaming product WatchESPN available to customers on an authenticated basis.

The $4.9 million could be rolled into any new carriage deal DISH and ESPN form as the most recent deal, signed in 2005, is scheduled to expire in September.


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