Cablevision, Dish settle Voom lawsuit

Companies come to terms for $700 million cash, new carriage deal for AMC Nets

Dish and Cablevision have settled their bitter legal fight over Voom for $700 million in cash and a new long-term carriage deal for AMC Networks, returning “The Walking Dead” to Dish’s 14 million subscribers starting tonight.

Terms weren’t released, but the companies said Sunday that Dish, which dropped AMC in June, will again air the flagship channel AMC as well as IFC, Sundance Channel and WeTV. It will pick up Fuse, the music channel owned by Madison Square Garden Co., on Nov. 1.

“We are glad to have settled the case and re-established our long-term relationships with AMC Networks and Cablevision,” said Dave Shull, senior VP of programming at Dish. “This multiyear deal delivers a fair value for both parties and includes digital expansion opportunities for AMC Networks’ programming.”

AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan said, “We are glad to partner again with Dish Networks and are delighted to bring back our popular channels and programming to their customers.”

The total payout, which will be split 50-50 between Cablevision and AMC, includes $80 million for Dish to buy wireless spectrum licenses in 45 U.S. metro areas, a part of the settlement that hadn’t been anticipated.

Cablevision sued Dish in 2007 after the satcaster dropped a suite of early high-definition channels called Voom only two years into a 15-year carriage deal. The trial in New York State Supreme Court in lower Manhattan started Sept. 19. It was adjourned last Wednesday to allow the parties to settle and was scheduled to start again Monday with Dish chairman Charlie Ergen to take the stand.

Dish had been sanctioned over the summer for destroying evidence in the case and was having a rough time in the courtroom. Investors had expected a settlement over the weekend, and shares of both companies zoomed higher Friday.

“It was as expected. Dish went into it with a weak hand, and faced with all this, they didn’t want to put Ergen on the stand,” said Thomas Claps from Susquehanna Financial Group, who has been following the case.

As part of the Voom partnership, Cablevision gave Dish a 20% equity stake in the venture, which it will hand back to AMC, a former subsidiary of Cablevision that used to be called Rainbow Media.

Cablevision said the suit will be formally dismissed when it gets the cash.

Dish will receive 500 MHz of wireless multichannel video distribution and data service spectrum licenses that cover a population of 150 million in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia and other cities.

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