Dish Network isn’t making friends in court this week as a judge accused its lawyers of delay tactics in hopes of a mistrial in its litigation with Cablevision over its now-defunct Voom TV service.
Cablevision counsel claimed Tuesday that Dish wants a mistrial to put off a verdict and gain leverage over AMC Networks in a carriage dispute.
AMC shares dipped more than 2% Tuesday to $41.87.
Judge Richard Lowe of New York State Supreme Court in lower Manhattan called Dish’s behavior “incredible” and said it’s “spinning its wheels” to push the trial into late October when a number of jurors have conflicts and won’t be able to serve. The judge had expected to wrap things up before then. The trial started Sept. 19 and has proved slow going.
The latest delay comes after Dish appealed a ruling by the judge that it produce certain documents it had withheld at trial. Cablevision lawyers said the materials support Voom’s case. When Dish counsel appeared before the Appellate Division on Monday, it failed to provide a copy of the documents at issue, delaying the appellate process and possibly the trial, according to Susquehanna Financial Group’s Thomas Claps, who was at the courthouse.
Voom, owned by Cablevision, sued Dish for dropping its high-def channels only two years into a binding 15-year contract. Dish claims it had an out because Voom failed to invest a fixed $100 million in programming the contract called for because it included overhead and others costs in the figure. Cablevision counsel said the documents at the center of Tuesday’s controversy support the case that overhead could count toward the spending requirement and that Dish was aware that Voom’s spending would include overhead and other costs.
Over the summer, Dish dropped AMC Networks, a former subsid of Cablevision and sister company of Voom. AMC said it was to gain leverage in the upcoming trial. Dish said the networks, AMC, IFC, We TV and Sundance, weren’t worth the price. Dish has reprogrammed the channel positions and says it’s moved on, but Wall Street fully expects a carriage deal to be part of any settlement, if there is one.
Cablevision is asking for $2.4 billion in damages from Dish that it would split 50-50 with AMC.