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Disney and Dish Extend ESPN, ABC Carriage Deal

Dish Network and the Walt Disney Co. reached a short-term extension of their carriage deal, avoiding a blackout of programming on channels that include ESPN and ABC owned stations, the companies announced in a joint statement on Monday.

The original agreement was set to expire at the end of September. Details of the extension were not announced.

The extension avoids a repeat - at least for now - of the month-long blackout of CBS by Time Warner Cable.

ESPN carries the highest per-subscriber carriage fee among basic cable networks and rising sports costs are a key issue for program distributors like Dish Network. On recent conference calls with investors, Dish chairman Charlie Ergen has said that he was willing to live without ESPN and other Disney Channels if Disney seeks too high a price.

Dish has already sued Disney over the terms of their carriage agreement, accusing the company of being unfair.

The carriage agreement also encompasses Disney Channel, ABC Family and other cable networks.