UPDATE, 10:50 AM: Dish says its customers will lose channels including AMC, IFC, WEtv, and Sundance at the end of June – but that’s “solely” due to “their high renewal cost when compared to their low viewership. Dish will make alternative high-value channels available to our customers as replacements.” Dish notes that the suite of network “overall have had significant declines in viewership among DISH subscribers.” What’s more, the networks’ hit shows including Mad Men are “available to our customers through multiple other outlets such as Amazon.com, iTunes and Netflix.” What about AMC Networks‘ charge that Dish is retaliating for the cable networks company’s breach of contract suit involving the VOOM HD channels? Dish says that’s “a separate matter.” The satellite company “decided to exercise its right to terminate the VOOM agreement. The questions involved in the discovery dispute do not change those facts.”
PREVIOUS, 7:20 AM: AMC Networks says that the satellite company is threatening to do just that — but not for the usual reason: price. The owner of channels including AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel and WEtv says that it may be dropped because Dish doesn’t like the way things are going in a $2.5B breach of contract suit that AMC filed in 2008 after Dish dropped the VOOM suite of HD networks. (The suit began when AMC was part of Cablevision; it was spun off last year.) The trial judge said in a pre-trial ruling that Dish had destroyed evidence and showed a “pattern of egregious conduct and questionable – and, at times, blatantly improper – litigation tactics.” Dish appealed, but the ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeals. Dish then took the matter to the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court. It said last week that it wouldn’t overturn previous decisions. That clears the way for the original breach of contract case to go to trial. “Within days of the denial of Dish’s final avenue of pre-trial appeal, Dish informed AMC Networks of its intention to drop its award-winning networks,” the programmer says in a release this morning. Dish’s current contract with AMC expires on June 30. Still waiting for Dish’s side of the story.