It wasn't that long ago that Dish Network was proudly offering AMC HD to its customers (especially since DirecTV didn't, which has since been rectified) but now the company is willing to let the network's contract expire this summer, taking new episodes of Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead away from subscribers. The source of the sudden animosity, according to a press release from AMC, is continuing litigation between it and Dish Network over dropping the Voom HD channels back in 2008, leading to them going dark soon after. The LA Times reports Dish Network claims the denial of its appeal on a decision in the case has nothing to do with its sudden change of heart is solely about AMC's high renewal cost for a relatively low viewership. Whatever you believe, the sniping and threats will likely continue right up until the contract runs out June 30th, which is at least long enough for this season of Mad Men to finish on its own.

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Court Denies Dish Network's Last Pre-Trial Appeal in Voom HD Lawsuit, Upholding Ruling that Dish Destroyed Evidence

As DISH's Latest Appeal Is Denied, It Threatens to Drop AMC Networks
Channels From Its System

New York, NY, May 4, 2012 – As a result of a new ruling in the ongoing VOOM HD/DISH litigation, the case will now be set for trial. In the latest ruling, filed on Thursday, April 26, 2012, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court denied DISH's application to further appeal a prior trial court decision sanctioning it for bad-faith destruction of evidence in the case.

The case began in 2008, when VOOM HD (an indirect subsidiary of AMC Networks (NASDAQ: AMCX)) sued DISH Network for breach of contract. The case concerns a contract in which DISH agreed to carry a suite of HD networks known as VOOM for 15 years. In early 2008, DISH improperly terminated the VOOM contract, and VOOM HD filed suit, seeking over $2.5 billion in damages.

In a pre-trial ruling, the trial court judge ruled that DISH had destroyed evidence in the case, citing DISH's "pattern of egregious conduct and questionable – and, at times, blatantly improper – litigation tactics." The Appellate Division recently affirmed the trial court ruling, writing that DISH "acted in bad faith in destroying electronically stored evidence."? And on April 26, 2012, the Appellate Division denied DISH leave to further appeal the decision, leaving the case to be set for trial.

Within days of the denial of DISH's final avenue of pre-trial appeal, DISH informed AMC Networks of its intention to drop its award-winning networks.

In response to the latest developments, AMC Networks released the following statement: "AMC Networks has some of the most acclaimed programming on television, with shows like "Mad Men," "The Walking Dead" and "Breaking Bad." In fact, AMC's "The Walking Dead" is the number one scripted drama with DISH subscribers.*

It is unfortunate that, because of setbacks in an unrelated litigation, DISH even suggests that they might deny their customers access to some of their favorite networks and shows that are offered by every other major satellite and cable TV provider."

*Source: Nielsen Media Research 4Q11-1Q12 A18-49 (000) Dish Universe

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Dish Network, AMC dispute could see the network's channels dropped this summer