EchoStar Offers Lifetime an a la Carte Option

Jan 24, 2006  •  Post A Comment

A day after Lifetime Entertaiment Services rejected what it called a “take it or leave it” carriage offer from EchoStar Communications, the satellite operator sent a letter to the programmer’s top affiliate sales executive offering to make Lifetime available to subscribers on an a la carte basis.

In a letter addressed to Louise Henry Bryson, Lifetime’s president of distribution and affiliate business development, EchoStar Senior VP of Programming Eric Sahl offered to immediately restore Lifetime to EchoStar’s Dish Network on a standalone basis to subscribers who wish to pay for the channel.

Mr. Sahl also said EchoStar would be willing to pay Lifetime its most recent rate the programmer proposed for broadcasting the channel.

Lifetime responded to the latest offer by saying, “We stand by our position that Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network, the No. 1 and No. 2 women’s networks, should be available to all Dish subscribers without an extra cost. Dish has already announced they are increasing their rates by $2 to $3 per month on February 1st. Why should women pay even more for their favorite programs?”

The offer by EchoStar officials is the latest in a feud between the two parties that has played out publicly since the beginning of the year. EchoStar over the New Year’s weekend took Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network off its system after both sides failed to reach a new carriage agreement.

The two companies have argued over the rate EchoStar should pay to carry the two channels, and there has even been disagreement over exactly how much of a rate increase Lifetime has requested from EchoStar. The satellite company claims Lifetime asked for a 76 percent increase, something Lifetime officials have denied requesting.

On Sunday the battle came to a head, with Lifetime rejecting EchoStar’s latest offer.

In keeping Lifetime off of the EchoStar system, the network loses around 8 million subscribers, bringing the total number of homes passed to around 81 million.

EchoStar has made up for the absence of women-oriented programming by adding WE: Women’s Entertainment, Encore Love and Oxygen to its lineup.