ENGLEWOOD, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE
)--Jan. 1, 2006--EchoStar Communications Corporation (NASDAQ:DISH) and its DISH Network satellite service was forced by Lifetime Television to remove Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network from its satellite TV service.
DISH Network's contract with Lifetime expired Dec. 31, 2005. DISH Network deeply regrets the disruption of service to customers, but prior to the loss of Lifetime Movie Network, Lifetime refused to offer an extension for continued negotiations. Consequently, DISH Network was legally prohibited from broadcasting Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network.
Lifetime demanded an exorbitant price increase of 76 percent under the contract term. If DISH Network capitulated to Lifetime's skyrocket pricing, unreasonable rate increases for DISH Network customers would result. Lifetime is also insisting DISH Network force consumers to pay for a new channel with similar content to a channel already available on DISH Network. In order to continue to bring customers the programming they want at a fair price every month, DISH Network must say NO to Lifetime's strong-arm tactics.
"While we are working hard to negotiate a fair contract with Lifetime Television, we must also protect our customers from outrageous rate increases," said Eric Sahl, senior vice president of Programming at DISH Network. "We appreciate the relationship we have had with Lifetime over the past 10 years and we hope they will reconsider their position and return their channels to our customers."
Below is a copy of a letter posted Dec. 31, 2005, on www.fairsatellite.com from DISH Network Chief Executive Officer Charlie Ergen in response to inaccurate statements appearing on Lifetime Television's website:
Louise Henry Bryson President, Distribution and Affiliate Business Development Lifetime Television Dear Ms. Bryson: The statements on your website with respect to our dispute are inaccurate. Specifically, you claim that DISH Network violated our contract by taking Lifetime Movie Network off the air. As you are aware the agreement terminated December 31, 2005 and Lifetime refused to offer any extension prior to DISH Network's loss of the network today (the date of the contract expiration). We are confident we have not breached the agreement and welcome the disclosure to the public, any portion of the contract that demonstrates DISH Network is in violation of our agreement. In addition, Lifetime's final demand prior to our loss of the network called for a 76% rate increase under the contract term. DISH Network hereby waives any right to confidentiality which may exist with respect to rates under our existing agreement and the proposed rates under Lifetime's proposal so that the public can judge for themselves. We challenge Lifetime to likewise agree to the release of that information. While DISH Network desires to make Lifetime programming available to its customers, we also must protect our customers from exorbitant rate increases. We have valued our relationship with Lifetime Television over the past 10 years and we are hopeful that we can work together to restore Lifetime programming to DISH Network customers. Sincerely, Charlie Ergen Chief Executive Officer DISH Network
In the meantime, DISH Network is offering its customers a free preview of Women's Entertainment Network (WE), a channel which provides similar content to that on Lifetime.
For more information, visit www.fairsatellite.com.
EchoStar Communications Corporation (NASDAQ:DISH) serves more than 11.7 million satellite TV customers through its DISH Network(TM), the fastest growing U.S. provider of advanced digital television services in the last five years. DISH Network offers hundreds of video and audio channels, Interactive TV, HDTV, sports and international programming, together with professional installation and 24-hour customer service. Visit EchoStar's DISH Network at www.dishnetwork.com or call 1-800-333-DISH (3474).