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Netflix Removes Sony Movies, Citing Sony-Starz Dispute

Netflix last week pulled Sony Pictures Entertainment movies from its Internet-streaming video-on-demand service, citing a "temporary contract issue" between Sony and Starz for the suspension.

"[W]hile these two valued partners work through their differences, we hope you are enjoying the wide variety of new movies and TV shows added daily," Netflix vice president of content acquisition Pauline Fischer wrote in a post on the Netflix corporate blog last Friday.

Starz and Sony Pictures Entertainment did not immediately comment on the Netflix post.

Starz and Netflix are in the midst of renegotiating a content-distribution deal, with their original three-year pact set to expire in the first quarter of 2012.

Meanwhile, Starz this spring said it would begin withholding original series from the Netflix streaming queue until 90 days after they debut on the TV network, with first-run movies to follow suit later.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has suggested the Starz renewal could cost $200 million to $300 million per year, up from an estimated $30 million annually under the original agreement.

Last year Netflix struck a deal worth $1 billion over five years with Epix, the joint venture of Paramount, Lionsgate and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.