Cablevision and AMC Networks have settled their lawsuit with Dish Network. Here are the terms: Dish pays $700 million; AMC and Dish enter into a long-term deal bringing back AMC channels to Dish; Dish gets spectrum licenses for video and data distribution to 45 metropolitan areas in the U.S. Plaintiffs sought damages, asserting that Dish had breached an affiliate agreement by terminating AMC’s Voom HD Network in 2008. The case veered after a preliminary ruling in which the judge in the case decided to tell jurors that Dish “destroyed potentially critical evidence in the case.” The judge told jurors they could infer that the evidence “would have been unfavorable to Dish” and he did not approve any the three witnesses for which Dish had sought expert designation. Pending execution of the joint stipulation to judgment, the case eventually will be dismissed without prejudice. The lawsuit was filed in the Supreme Court in New York.
Josh Sapan, president and CEO, AMC Networks, observed after the ruling: “We are glad to partner again with DISH Network and are delighted to bring back our popular channels and programming to their customers.” The channels should be back on Dish Network.
The part of the settlement that may be less obvious: Dish will pay $80 million as part of the $700-million settlement for 45 spectrum licenses. The 500 MHz of wireless spectrum acquired by Dish is mostly designed to send internet signals downstream. Ultimately AMC needed to get in front of Dish Network subscribers (some 14 million of them) and gave up the valuable spectrum bandwidth. Dish expands its capacity to distribute content to subscribers and appears to be taking steps for a future trending towards wireless distribution and away from cable. The FCC actually encourages secondary markets for spectrum licensing to ensure competitive use of the invisible airwaves. Spectrum sub-licenses, auctions, and reallocation stemming from more efficient use technologies are a hot topic for the FCC. Want to learn more? Click here now.