Disney, EchoStar scrap over ABC Family - Broadcasting & Cable

Disney, EchoStar scrap over ABC Family

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The Walt Disney Co. is seeking a federal injunction against EchoStar
Communications Corp. to halt the satellite provider's plans to pull ABC Family
off its Dish Network service come Jan. 1.

EchoStar said changes in the channel's ownership allow it to terminate the
carriage deal, which runs through August 2005.

Disney purchased the former Fox Family Channel from News Corp. and Saban
Entertainment in October for $5.2 billion.

EchoStar has also grumbled that ABC Family's subscriber fees are too high and
its ratings are too low to warrant carriage.

Disney alleged that while it acquired Fox Family Worldwide Inc., the
channel's ownership structure, as defined by the agreement, remains intact.

'We believe EchoStar is attempting to use the threat as leverage to
renegotiate lower license fees,' an ABC Family representative said.

If EchoStar dumps ABC Family -- which is currently on its basic 'America's
Top 50' tier -- the network would lose about 6.4 million
subscribers.

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