Jury selection and opening arguments were completed Friday
in the case pitting Cablevision's Dolan family against Dish Network's Charlie
In its billion dollar suit, the discontinued HD programming
service started by the Dolans and now an asset of AMC Networks, claims Ergen's
Echostar breached its carriage agreement. Beyond the money, the dispute is
relevant because AMC claims its channels were taken off Dish partly for
leverage in settling the suit.
According to analyst Tom Claps of Susquehanna Financial
Group, there were few revelations in the opening statements.
"However, Voom did score additional points by
repeatedly highlighting Dish's systematic, bad faith, year-long destruction of
evidence during the critical stages of this dispute," Claps said
Dish's main argument was that overhead should not have been
included when calculating how much was being spent on Voom. In its
agreement with Echostar, Voom was bound to spend $100 million annually on
the services' suite of channels. Dish contends Voom spent only $60
million on programming in 2006.
"After hearing the opening statements, it remains our
view that Voom (AMCX/CVC) is in a stronger position with respect to the core
issues in this case, and that Voom will likely receive a favorable verdict if
this case does not settle," Claps said.
Cablevision chairman Charles Dolan is expected to be the
first witness to take the stand on Monday morning.