Disney, EchoStar Continue ABC Family Talks

20 March 2002

The row that broke out late last year between the Walt Disney Company and US satellite-TV operator EchoStar Communications is still not settled, a court hearing on the dispute having been postponed earlier this week while the two sides negotiate.

Citing poor ratings, EchoStar wants to drop Disney’s ABC Family TV network – known as Fox Family before Disney acquired it for $2.9 billion (€3.3bn; £2bn) last year [WAMN: 24-Jul-01].

Arguing that such a step would violate a contract from 1995, Disney filed a lawsuit in December to keep ABC Family on EchoStar’s service. The satellite firm, however, claims the contract allows it to remove the network if ownership has changed.

As reported in January [WAMN: 02-Jan-02], a US District Court judge ordered EchoStar to continue broadcasting the network until a full hearing on the matter. This hearing was postponed until March 11 to allow the two sides to negotiate a compromise, then delayed again until March 18.

EchoStar and Disney are still locked in talks, so the hearing has now been put back by a further two weeks.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff