By Alexandra Burlacu | Oct 23, 2012 09:30 AM EDT
DISH Network announced on Sunday, Oct. 21, that it has settled a court case with AMC Networks and sister company Cablevision Systems.
The settlement will put an end to a blackout of months that has affected millions of customers, bringing a suite of cable channels which AMC Networks operates back to the DISH Network.
AMC Networks' flagship channel AMC returned to DISH on Sunday just in time for the second episode of the new season of "The Walking Dead." On Oct. 14, the first episode of the new season drew a 10.9 million audience, even as the channel was blacked out for the 14 million customers on the DISH Network. AMC has now offered a Web stream of the first episode to DISH customers.
AMC's other channels - the Sundance Channel, We tv, and IFC - will return to DISH Network on Nov. 1, the company announced on Sunday. While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, DISH senior vice president for programming Dave Shull said that it was a "multiyear deal."
"We are glad to have settled the case and reestablished our long-term relationships with AMC Networks and Cablevision," said Shull. "This multiyear deal delivers a fair value for both parties and includes digital expansion opportunities for AMC Networks' programming."
"We are glad to partner again with Dish Network and are delighted to bring back our popular channels and programming to their customers," added AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan.
The end of the blackout for DISH customers also coincided with a settlement in a four-year breach-of-contract legal dispute between DISH, controlled by Charles W. Ergen, and VOOM, a former Cablevision Subsidiary controlled by AMC Networks' boss Charles F. Dolan. While DISH said that its decision to cease carrying AMC's channels in July 1 was not related to the VOOM lawsuit, AMC claimed otherwise.
VOOM is composed of a set of high-definition TV channels founded by Dolan. DISH stopped carrying VOOM's channels back in 2008, and in response VOOM sought more than $2 billion in damages. DISH argued that it did not wrongfully terminate the carriage contract because Cablevision had not lived up to its commitment to invest $100 million a year in VOOM.
The case went to trial earlier this month, but court was adjourned on Wednesday, Oct. 17, sparking expectations that a settlement was in the works.
Under the terms of the settlement announced on Sunday, DISH will pay $700 million to Cablevision and AMC Networks. A portion of $80 million of that total amount is dedicated to the purchase of spectrum licenses from Cablevision, so DISH can expand its ability to sell wireless broadband service to customers.
In addition to bringing back AMC Networks' channels, DISH will also start carrying Fuse, a channel operated by the Madison Square Garden Company overseen by Dolan's son James.
Once the payment is completed, the companies will file a joint stipulation to dismiss the court case with prejudice.
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