Judge Refuses to Shield the Key Terms of CNN's Deal With Dish Network

Ronnie Abrams stands up for open access to courts and rejects sealing despite arguments of financial harm.
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For more than a year, CNN's parent company has been locked in a bitter dispute with Dish Network over license payments. Both sides have attempted to use a public courtroom to privately wage a $100 million fight. Finally, on Wednesday, the judge overseeing the case ruled that enough is enough with all the secrecy.

In a memorandum decision, U.S. District Court Judge Ronnie Abrams nods to the high presumption of access to court materials and is refusing the demands of the satcaster and newscaster to seal materials related to summary judgment motions.

Even more extraordinary, despite the assertion by CNN's parent company and Dish that disclosure of their agreement with each other would cause significant financial and irreparable harm should competitors get a peek, Abrams is inclined to allow the more sensitive portions to see the light of day.

"Should the parties wish to submit alternative proposed redactions more narrowly tailored to the interests they seek to protect, they may submit such proposed redactions to the Court no later than January 30, 2019," she writes. "However, the parties are advised that ... the Court will not shield from the public the key terms of the affiliation agreements, which are critical to adjudicating the pending summary judgment motion."

What's this case about?

Despite many sealed documents and redactions that would make the CIA blush, we've been able to glean that the dispute is about people watching CNN on airplanes. Read more about that here.

The summary judgment papers should be available within weeks. In the meantime, here's the latest victory for open courts.