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Fox to EchoStar: Pay Up

Los Angeles—Found money is usually a pleasant surprise, but not if you think you should get more. After Fox Sports Net received an unexplained $10.3 million "shortfall" payment from EchoStar Communications last spring, Fox is now suing for $25 million more, suspecting that the DBS company may owe more money from previous years. Fox Networks Group President Tony Vinciquerra says he's "completely baffled" over the payment and EchoStar's inability to account for the money.

At issue is whether EchoStar has been undercounting subscribers on its Dish Network.

Says Vinciquerra, "We rely on the operators to tell us what their distribution is."

An EchoStar spokesperson says, "We have consistently made the payments due to Fox Sports under our contract." EchoStar claims Fox's parent company, News Corp., which controls DirecTV, is trying to "unfairly leverage" a competitor. Vinciquerra dismisses that assertion.

For now, Fox says it won't pull its regional sports nets from Dish Network, but Vinciquerra doesn't rule out the option.

Cablevision Slashes Prices

Bethpage, N.Y.—Cablevision is sharply reducing fees for customers that take all three of its primary services in an aggressive pitch to win new subscribers. Digital cable, high-speed Internet, and a telephone service will each be priced at $29.95 monthly.

The new pricing, aimed at countering attacks from rivals, could offend existing customers paying full freight. For the new customers, though, it's a big discount from standard rates. For existing customers, the lowest-priced digital-cable package is more than $50, high-speed data is $45, and telephone service is $35.

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