The bitter dispute between EchoStar’s Charlie Ergen and Cablevision’s Dolan family over the long-abandoned Voom HDTV portfolio of channels is about to come to court. Cablevision is suing EchoStar for $2.5 billion in damages, arguing that in taking Voom down from its Dish Network the broadcaster breached a binding contract between the two parties.
The dispute has created other disagreements in its wake, not least the cutting of Cablevision’s sister company’s AMC bouquet of channels from Dish.
Voom went dark back in 2009 and created a bitter division between the two media giants. Voom originally launched in 2003 and was designed to create a ‘must see’ range of HDTV programming, and which Ergen took on an exclusive basis as far as satellite was concerned.
The agreement between Voom and Dish required Voom to invest $100 million a year on new HDTV programming, but losses were huge. EchoStar had the right to terminate the contract if investment fell below this $100 million figure. EchoStar, in 2007, argued that Voom’s investment had fallen below that sum, a point which Cablevision/Voom dispute. Voom’s argument is that its spend on programming – and related service costs – exceeded $100 million.
In early 2008, EchoStar terminated the agreement, and Voom sued.
There’s also an argument that EchoStar has deliberately destroyed e-mails and other documentation relating to the case, which has already upset Judge Richard Lowe III, and thus in the eyes of many observers putting EchoStar on a distinct back foot as far as this case is concerned. EchoStar was found guilty by Judge Lowe, and that verdict upheld on appeal.