Turner Pulls Court TV Off of Dish Service

Jan 8, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Turner Broadcasting blocked EchoStar Communications’ Dish service from carrying the Court TV network in a dispute over carriage fees, prompting the satellite-television company to call Turner’s rate demands unreasonable.

Turner, the Time Warner unit that holds networks including CNN and TBS, pulled Court TV off Dish at 12:01 ET Monday because EchoStar was unwilling to pay the standard industry rate for the channel, Turner said in a statement last week.

“We were unable to reach an agreement with EchoStar and, as a result, we had no choice but to discontinue their carriage of Court TV,” Turner said. “They were unwilling to pay the standard industry rate for a popular network that is currently ranked in the Top 20. We are disappointed with their decision, and hope that we can reach resolution, but in the meantime, our cable operator partners and DirecTV are able to provide this network to Court TV fans.”

Turner’s decision to pull Court TV puts it among cable networks that have suspended signals to pay-TV services during contract disputes in order to put pressure on distributors. EchoStar, whose Dish service is the second-biggest satellite-TV service behind DirecTV, argues that it’s being asked to pay more than cable operators, including those owned by Time Warner.

“We are working hard to negotiate a fair contract with Turner Networks and Court TV,” said Eric Sahl, senior VP of programming for EchoStar’s Dish Network in a statement Tuesday. “But we must also protect our customers from unreasonable demands. It is not fair to ask our customers to pay a DBS premium for a channel owned by the second-largest cable operator, Time Warner.”

Court TV was acquired by Time Warner during 2006 and was folded into the media company’s Turner Broadcasting unit.