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ESPN Sues Verizon Over Slimmed-Down FiOS TV Package

Disney’s ESPN has filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Verizon Communications, alleging the telco’s new FiOS Custom TV violates the terms of the sports programmer’s existing contracts.

ESPN is at the forefront of embracing innovative ways to deliver high-quality content and value to consumers on multiple platforms, but that must be done in compliance with our agreements,” the programmer said in a statement. “We simply ask that Verizon abide by the terms of our contracts.”

Asked for comment, a Verizon spokeswoman said, “Consumers have spoken loud and clear that they want choice, and the industry should be focused on giving consumers what they want. We are well within our rights under our agreements to offer our customers these choices.”

Verizon’s new bundle, announced last week, starts at $59.99 for a base package of 35 channels, plus two additional genre-based channel packs. Each additional pack — for sports, kids, lifestyle, news and info, pop culture and entertainment — is $10 extra. ESPN argues that its networks, including ESPN and ESPN2, are not eligible for inclusion on a separately priced tier.

Previously, ESPN had complained about the FiOS Custom TV package, as have Fox Sports and NBCUniversal. Last week, Disney and Fox said they had refused to air TV ads in New York from Verizon for the new service.

ESPN filed the suit Monday in the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

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