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Lifetime bounces EchoStar deal

Cabler rejects Dish Network offer

Negotiations between Lifetime and EchoStar have ground to a halt.

In a release issued Sunday morning, the women’s cabler said it has rejected what it describes as an “unfair and unreasonable take-it-or-leave-it” offer from EchoStar’s Dish Network that would have restored the net to the satellite service’s customers.

EchoStar dropped Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network on New Year’s Day, claiming Lifetime was asking for a hefty 76% hike in its license fee and carriage for a third network, Lifetime Real Women. Lifetime’s release calls that number “bogus.”

Lifetime entertainment services prexy Betty Cohen said in a statement: “The rates we have proposed to Dish are highly competitive relative to what we believe Dish is paying for other networks — including networks that are far less popular — and would not add to Dish customers’ costs. We continue to be open to an agreement with Dish that is fair to us, to our viewers and to other providers, and which reflects the value of our networks, but we have not once heard such an offer from them in more than seven months of negotiations.”

“We have been unable to reach an agreement, even though we offered a number of options which were ultimately rejected by Lifetime,” said EchoStar prexy Michael Neuman said in a statement. “Lifetime has made it clear that further talks will not result in fair rates for our customers. Dish Network will permanently replace the Lifetime Channel by month end, and we are in meaningful discussions now with a number of interesting programmers for a compelling replacement to Lifetime.”

In retaliation for having been unceremoniously yanked from Dish, Lifetime earlier this month kicked off a multiplatform campaign urging EchoStar subs to “take back their Lifetime.” Full-page ads in the New York Times urged Dish customers to cancel their satellite service and subscribe to Comcast, Time Warner or another cable operator. Full-page ads also have appeared in the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News — the hometown papers for EchoStar’s HQ.

EchoStar fired back last week, signing Oxygen to fill in the Lifetime Movie Network slot (Daily Variety, Jan. 17). Agreement put the smaller women’s net carriage in 7 million of Dish’s 12 million homes. Dish has been airing WE: Women’s Entertainment in the Lifetime dial position, which reaches all 12 million Dish subs.

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