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OLN, EchoStar Reach Agreement

Apr 25, 2006  •  Post A Comment

After a six-month absence, OLN, formerly known as Outdoor Life Network, returned to EchoStar Communications’ Dish Network Monday, both sides having reached a multiyear carriage agreement.

The pact, of which financial terms were not disclosed, ends a months-long stalemate that led to OLN’s being removed from the channel lineup of EchoStar’s video service Dish Network last October. As a consequence of the new agreement, OLN was restored to EchoStar’s package of 180 channels.

The fight began in mid-October, when EchoStar claimed that OLN, which is owned by cable giant Comcast, failed to furnish the satellite operator with games from the National Hockey League.

In carrying the hockey games OLN set a requirement that the channel must be seen by 40 percent of a cable of satellite system’s viewers-something OLN claimed EchoStar failed to meet. OLN had pushed to move the channel to a video package that would boost viewership, but EchoStar refused.

“It was important that we negotiated a fair contract, enable Dish Network to remain a tremendous value for our customers,” said Eric Sahl, EchoStar’s senior VP of programming, in a statement. “We understand that this has been a difficult period for our customers, and we thank them for all their patience.”

Said OLN President Gavin Harvey: “We are very pleased that millions of Dish customers can once again enjoy OLN’s terrific programming.”

OLN, which will change its name to Versus in September, will return to Channel 151 and will include broadcasts of the NHL games. EchoStar has more than 12 million subscribers.

EchoStar’s fight with OLN is the latest in a series of carriage battles waged by the satellite operator. Earlier this year Lifetime was dropped from the operator’s lineup after EchoStar balked at an affiliate-fee increase.