Disney, EchoStar Resolve ABC Family Row

05 April 2002

The row raging since December between satellite-TV operator EchoStar Communications and the Walt Disney Company was resolved Thursday, though the duo did not reveal terms of their “multiyear agreement”.

The often bitter dispute stems from EchoStar’s attempts to remove Disney’s ABC Family from its Dish Network satellite service. Disney purchased the channel from Fox Family Worldwide (where it was known as Fox Family), and EchoStar argued that the contract it signed with Fox did not apply when ownership changed.

Late last year, a court ruled that EchoStar must continue to carry ABC Family until a full hearing could decide the matter. That hearing was put off several times as the two thrashed out a settlement [WAMN: 20-Mar-02].

Not only has EchoStar agreed to retain ABC Family in its programming lineup, it will also reinstate by April the channel’s Disney-owned stablemate ESPN Classic – removed at the start of the year.

In return, Disney will withdraw its support from a lawsuit the major TV networks have filed against EchoStar in order to stop the satellite firm transmitting local stations from one city to another.

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff