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EchoStar Fires Back in Feud With Disney

January 03, 2002|From Reuters

Satellite television broadcaster EchoStar Communications Corp. struck back in a bitter contract dispute with Walt Disney Co. on Wednesday, accusing the company of taking a "hypocritical" view of consumer interests and applying political pressure to keep its ABC Family channel on the air.

"The current dispute between EchoStar and Disney is simply about EchoStar trying to protect its customers from Disney, a giant media conglomerate that has imposed rate increases well beyond the rate of inflation," EchoStar said in a statement.

Disney had sued EchoStar, asking a Los Angeles federal judge for a restraining order after EchoStar said it would stop carrying ABC Family as of Tuesday to make room for other channels. EchoStar has argued that under an agreement it signed in 1995 it has the right to drop ABC Family if there is a change in its control.

The broadcaster has also complained about fee increases Disney has levied for its channels and what it says are weak ratings for ABC Family.

On Monday, the L.A. judge issued a temporary restraining order that bars EchoStar from dropping Disney's ABC Family until Jan. 10.

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