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EchoStar refuses to 'hush' Disney

After a federal court ruling kept The Walt Disney Co.'s ABC Family from
going dark on EchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish Network Jan 1., the
direct-broadcast satellite company said it 'refuses to pay hush money to Disney'
and it is trying to protect its customers.

'EchoStar simply cannot carry every service a programming behemoth like
Disney wishes to force upon EchoStar at costs that bear little relationship to
the value they provide to consumers,' the company said in a prepared statement.

The satellite provider also said Disney is the only programmer hinging its
support of EchoStar's proposed merger with DirecTV Inc. to carriage deals.

EchoStar is trying to terminate ABC Family's carriage on the basis that the
channel's ownership, as defined by the distribution agreement, has changed.

A federal judge in Los Angeles granted a temporary restraining order to
Disney late Monday preventing EchoStar from dropping the channel.

The order expires Jan. 10, when the judge will hear arguments for a permanent

Also Wednesday, ESPN president George Bodenheimer lashed out at EchoStar
after the satellite company pulled ESPN Classic off Dish Jan. 1.

'This diminishes EchoStar's offerings, and it appears that EchoStar is pursuing
other goals at the expense of its current and future subscribers and the overall
quality of its programming-distribution service,' Bodenheimer said.

ESPN Classic's carriage deal with EchoStar expired Dec. 31 and EchoStar has
declined renewal.

Bodenheimer expressed his willingness to continue
negotiating with EchoStar to restore the channel.