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Lifetime Blasts EchoStar in NYT

In the latest development in the carriage squabble between Lifetime Entertainment and EchoStar, the women’s cable programmer has taken out a full-page ad in Tuesday’s New York Times making the accusation that the satellite provider “doesn’t value women.”

The ad lists upcoming programs on the network and encourages subscribers to EchoStar’s Dish Network to switch to DIRECTV or cable. It reads: “Dish Network Line-up: 46 Sports channels. 7 Pornography channels. 0 Lifetime Channels. If Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network–the #1 and #2 women’s networks–can’t make the cut, it’s obvious that DISH doesn’t value women.”

Lifetime said it had ceased carriage negotiations with EchoStar last week, which meant Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network are still absent from Dish, which serves 12 million subscribers.

According to Lifetime, EchoStar won’t budge from its demand to cut license fees up to 33%. That would “cripple our ability to do our programming and our advocacy,” said a Lifetime representative.

EchoStar yesterday sent a letter to Lifetime offering to carry the network on an à la carte basis. The network would be free to subscribers, and EchoStar would pay Lifetime per subscriber at the last rate Lifetime proposed. An EchoStar representative said Lifetime declined that offer.

“What they’re doing is, they’re trying to gain through politics what they could gain through working on the economics of the deal,” he said of the newspaper ad.

He also said Dish Network offered “a dozen” networks targeted to women, including WE: Women’s Entertainment, which is currently running on the channel where Lifetime had run, and 14 sports networks per customer, not the 46 Lifetime stated in their ad. That number includes all of the regional sports networks carried by Dish throughout the country, not all of which are available to customers in any one market.