FSN Sues Dish Network

In an effort to collect overdue subscription fees, Fox Sports Net June 14 filed a lawsuit against EchoStar Communications Corp. in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Fox Sports Net claims that the direct-broadcast satellite service owes at least $25 million in subscription fees dating back to as early as 2001, based on what the programmer called an EchoStar “miscalculation” of its Dish Network subscriber base. Fox Sports Net claimed it received a “shortfall payment” from EchoStar in March 2003 of $10.3 million for 2002 fees, according to the lawsuit.

EchoStar dismissed the lawsuit, saying that it has made all payments to Fox Sports Net.

“We have consistently made the payments due to Fox Sports under our contract,” an EchoStar spokesman said. “We believe this lawsuit is more about News Corp., the owner of Fox Sports, trying to unfairly leverage a competitor to their DirecTV [Inc.] division, and we intend to defend vigorously our compliance to the contract.”

FSN said the suit is its latest effort to end more than 15 months of EchoStar “stonewalling” over how the DBS provider calculated the “unanticipated payment.”

“We don’t typically receive out-of-the-blue payment totaling millions of dollars,” said Fox Cable Networks Group executive vice president and general counsel Rita Tuzon in a prepared statement. “We simply want to know how and why this came about and, based upon that, collect the additional amounts that we are owed.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.