Starz Sues Dish Over Year-Long Give-Away of Premium Channels

12:13 PM PST 05/03/2011 by Georg Szalai

Walt Disney, which has a film output deal with Starz, has also filed a complained against satellite TV provider Dish.

NEW YORK - Starz has filed a lawsuit against satellite TV firm Dish Network for having started providing subscribers free year-long access to Starz in February.

"On or around February 1, 2011, Dish began providing virtually all of its subscribers with free access to seven different Starz channels and one Encore channel," the complaint says. "In blatant violation of section 5(c) of the Dish agreement, Dish told consumers that it was giving them these channels for “free"."

The complaint adds: "The Dish agreement permits Dish to offer Starz’s television channels to its base of subscribers but only on certain conditions. Because the Starz and Encore channels are premium channels - or pay television channels - Starz does not permit Dish to simply give away its channels and content to its entire subscriber base."

Meanwhile, Walt Disney Co., which has an output deal with Starz, has also filed a copyright suit against Dish for distributing popular movies including Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland for free to Dish subscribers, Reuters reported earlier on Tuesday.

Disney's suit said it only granted Starz permission to air the movies with the understanding that Starz would be on a premium tier with TV distributors, Reuters said.

Dish said it is still reviewing the Starz lawsuit. Regarding the Disney suit, it said: "Dish Network pays hundreds of millions of dollars for the right to distribute Starz content to our customers, which includes the rights to a number of Disney movies, and our current distribution of Disney content on Starz is permitted under our contract with Starz. Dish Network does not have visibility to the contract between Starz and Disney, but we will vigorously defend our rights against any attempt to drag our customers into the middle of their dispute."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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