Dish-Univision Legal Battle Heats Up

The satellite operator is suing Univision in federal court, alleging that it distributed Mexican soccer games via Facebook in violation of their carriage agreement. Last month, Univision moved to dismiss the suit. Dish responded on Friday, contending that nothing in the agreement permits Univision to repackage programming and "then allowing that content to be given away for free."

Satellite Business News — Dish Network on Friday asked a federal court in New York to reject Univision’s request that Dish Network’s lawsuit against the programmer be dismissed.

As reported, Dish Network filed the lawsuit in July on the grounds Univision violated the distribution agreement between the two companies because it allowed Facebook to show Mexican soccer games live, for free, on the Internet that were also being shown on the full-time Univision channels Dish Network’s DBS and Sling TV online services sell.

Last month, Univision asked the court to dismiss the Dish Network lawsuit, arguing Dish Network did not obtain the rights to the English language telecasts of the soccer games.

Univision’s channels are in Spanish. As reported, the court has allowed both companies to make only heavily censored court filings available to the public. Friday’s Dish Network filing was particularly self-censored, making some of the firm’s arguments hard to follow.

But Dish Network’s arguments appear to rest on one main position. “The clear overarching intent of the [distribution] agreement is to provide content to Dish [Network] on the [full-time channels, which include the soccer matches] and to protect Dish [Network] from having that content distributed elsewhere for free.

Nothing in the agreement permits Univision to circumvent this structure by simply re-packaging the content it provides to Dish [Network] (whether with different Spanish language announcers and graphics, or different English-language announcers and graphics), and then allowing that content to be given away for free,” Dish Network wrote in one section that was not censored.

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Dish Network argued it entered into the distribution agreement with Univision “to show these [Mexican soccer] matches, and it is the matches themselves that consumers care most about — not the announcers, or the graphics.”

Dish Network labeled as “baseless” the “central” claim by Univision that Dish Network’s “rights under [the distribution] contract are limited” to Spanish-language content.

Satellite Business News is a leader in coverage of satellite TV and related fields. Its FaxUPDATE is published three times a week. To subscribe, email [email protected].


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