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HD carriage dispute w/ ABC/ESPN/Disney


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#126 OFFLINE   Greg Bimson

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 07:51 PM

In the next go around in negotiations with everyone look for News Corp to refer to FX HD as a separate channel from FX, NBCU to refer to USA HD as a separate channel from USA, etc.

But how do you know this hasn't happened already?

From the court decision James posted, Disney flat out told Dish Network they weren't going to receive the HD feeds of the aforementioned channels. It appears Disney wasn't so thrilled Dish Network didn't pay their bills on time.

And think about it: if you think about every HD channel launch, did it coincide with recently negotiated agreements? Or can you second guess that it is possible Dish Network may not have the correct agreement to add certain HD channels?

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#127 OFFLINE   RasputinAXP

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 07:54 PM

THIS IS RIDICULOUS! I am FURIOUS RIGHT NOW!

ESPNNEWS HD was there last night, i came this morning and its gone? WTF?

Just waiting for my contract to end in October, so I can leave DISH and their disgraceful service.. I'm either getting FIOS or switching back to cable or maybe even DirecTV


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#128 OFFLINE   deepen10

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 08:00 PM

Asleep for a week, Rip Van Winkle? :lol:


well I just got on the forums after a while and didn't know they were dropping... but mine didn't go away on the 22nd like the PR said, I was watching ESPNNEWS HD yesterday.. and I had Disney as well. I just noticed they were gone this afternoon.

#129 ONLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 08:45 PM

Unless you've got something magical about your setup... everyone lost these particular HD channels on the same day last week. I can't think of any reason or way you could have still had them yesterday.

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#130 OFFLINE   HDlover

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 08:47 PM

This is the perfect time for Dish to turn espn channels into optional pay channels. I wouldn't pay for them and I'm sure so wouldn't a lot of subscribers. That would get Disney thinking about their greed, that we have no control over, with package programing the only way to buy. Hopefully every provider would follow suit. Paying extra for HD channels is ridiculous. If they want me to watch their channels they have to be HD. All channels should be HD AFAIC. Too bad the FCC didn't mandate it.

#131 OFFLINE   coldsteel

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 09:12 PM

THIS IS RIDICULOUS! I am FURIOUS RIGHT NOW!

ESPNNEWS HD was there last night, i came this morning and its gone? WTF?

Just waiting for my contract to end in October, so I can leave DISH and their disgraceful service.. I'm either getting FIOS or switching back to cable or maybe even DirecTV


Yeah, real disgraceful trying to keep your bill down... :nono2:
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#132 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 11:38 PM

And think about it: if you think about every HD channel launch, did it coincide with recently negotiated agreements?

Of course. Otherwise I wouldn't be grumbling about no AMC HD.

But surely they aren't wording the agreements that there are separate channels with programming called FX SD and FX HD each with it's own price. I'm assuming that News Corp is allowing Dish to deliver the programming on FX in both the SD and HD versions with a sufficient fee to cover both.

My hangup is with the language the court used which apparently is what Disney is asserting:

Defendants license programming networks, consisting of standard definition and high definition programming, to distributors such as EchoStar.

Back in the good old days, we did not talk about color programming and black & white programming depending upon what TV the viewer had. We had programming which some could watch on their color TV in color and some could watch on their black and white TV in black and white.

What disturbs me is that the truth should be stated as follows: "Defendants license networks, consisting of exactly the same programming transmitted in standard definition and high definition, to distributors such as EchoStar."

If then it is argued that Dish's license for ABC Family was only for the SD transmission and it should pay some incremental amount to use the HD transmission, fine! But there is no ABC Family programming and ABC Family HD programming each to be negotiated separately. That language is Orwellian. It's one channel of programming available in SD and HD.

The TV world should be working towards an uniform standard of technology transmitted to everyone - a 16:9 color 1080i (or 720p) 3D capable 5.1 surround sound signal - with the goal of eliminating the SD format.

I don't know why Dish doesn't just tell Disney the only ESPN, Disney and ABC Family channel signals they will pay for is the HD signal. Let's get rid of this double level now. That will save every one money.

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#133 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 03:36 AM

But surely they aren't wording the agreements that there are separate channels with programming called FX SD and FX HD each with it's own price.

The court documents clearly state that the mouse networks contracts apply in that way. Why not FX's channel?

My hangup is with the language the court used which apparently is what Disney is asserting:

Defendants license programming networks, consisting of standard definition and high definition programming, to distributors such as EchoStar.

Back in the good old days, we did not talk about color programming and black & white programming depending upon what TV the viewer had. We had programming which some could watch on their color TV in color and some could watch on their black and white TV in black and white.

And you had a lot less of it! If you are going to live in the past you must completely live in the past ... give up the benefits of all the improvements made over time.

We've come a long way from "what's a rerun" and people having no concept of paying for TV (more than the price of a set and appropriate antenna).

What disturbs me is that the truth should be stated as follows: "Defendants license networks, consisting of exactly the same programming transmitted in standard definition and high definition, to distributors such as EchoStar."

It is not the same. The programming delivered via the programmer's "high definition" network is delivered at a higher quality than the programmer's "standard definition" network.

If then it is argued that Dish's license for ABC Family was only for the SD transmission and it should pay some incremental amount to use the HD transmission, fine! But there is no ABC Family programming and ABC Family HD programming each to be negotiated separately. That language is Orwellian. It's one channel of programming available in SD and HD.

You are believing DISH's interpretation, hook line and sinker. An interpretation built out of pieces from different contracts covering different programming that was clearly rejected by the court.

I don't know why Dish doesn't just tell Disney the only ESPN, Disney and ABC Family channel signals they will pay for is the HD signal. Let's get rid of this double level now. That will save every one money.

It will also remove programming from the majority of the 14 million customers who can't receive a HD feed. DISH doesn't get to create a HD channel by upconverting SD and they don't get to create a SD channel by downconverting HD. They have to deliver what the network provides as provided for in their contract.

#134 OFFLINE   jclewter79

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 06:52 AM

It is true that they cannot alter the signal to SD that they are sending out but, they can downrez a signal at the set-top box. Maybe these crazy prices that they will have to pay out to channel providers will justfy the mpeg4 conversion much sooner than we all though a few weeks ago.
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#135 OFFLINE   TulsaOK

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 06:56 AM

THIS IS RIDICULOUS! I am FURIOUS RIGHT NOW!

ESPNNEWS HD was there last night, i came this morning and its gone? WTF?

Just waiting for my contract to end in October, so I can leave DISH and their disgraceful service.. I'm either getting FIOS or switching back to cable or maybe even DirecTV


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#136 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 07:42 AM

It is true that they cannot alter the signal to SD that they are sending out but, they can downrez a signal at the set-top box. Maybe these crazy prices that they will have to pay out to channel providers will justfy the mpeg4 conversion much sooner than we all though a few weeks ago.

If you have a few billion to spend on replacing working MPEG2 boxes with MPEG4 boxes go for it! The programming fees would be cheaper.

I would also expect providers to have their prices set at "SD Only" and "SD plus HD". Negotiating a HD only price that was less that the "SD plus HD" price may be possible, but I see it as unlikely. Programmers will use ANY excuse to raise their prices. Programmers will use no excuse to raise their prices. It is up to the providers to keep those increases in check.

#137 OFFLINE   Greg Bimson

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 08:40 AM

If then it is argued that Dish's license for ABC Family was only for the SD transmission and it should pay some incremental amount to use the HD transmission, fine! But there is no ABC Family programming and ABC Family HD programming each to be negotiated separately. That language is Orwellian. It's one channel of programming available in SD and HD.

Okay. Let's take that line of reasoning...

Dish Network signed a carriage agreement in 2005 for six SD and two HD feeds of ESPN. Later, they signed a carriage agreement for three SD feeds of ABC Networks, and then another agreement for the SD feed ABC Family.

Dish Network SIGNED the contracts. Later, Disney told Dish Network in no uncertain terms that Dish Network would not be carrying HD programming for the four HD channels that were disputed. Obviously feeling jilted, Dish Network sued Disney and carried them anyway. In an absolute rout, Dish Network has been ordered to pay $65 million and has been told that those channels are not under contract.

So the simple reminder here is that "Orwellian contract" is the one Dish Network signed, and if they didn't like it, they should have tried to renegotiate with Disney in order to get what they wanted. Dish Network was told no, you can't have those channels so they decided to do what they wanted and to go the lawsuit route, and see where that ended up?

It appears to me that if rates are to be kept in check, that Dish Network shouldn't be foolhardy when it comes to trying to get what they want. Dish Network is now in a bit of a conundrum, as their press release over the matter plays the victim card by telling everyone that they have this wonderful HD for Life package and that Disney's pricing is too much. They've been carrying it for free until the court decided that Dish Network must pay.

I don't know why Dish doesn't just tell Disney the only ESPN, Disney and ABC Family channel signals they will pay for is the HD signal. Let's get rid of this double level now. That will save every one money.

Even with the argument made by James regarding the fact that there are still SD receivers out there, there are just way too may assumptions...

1) that Dish Network has enough clout to demand Disney do anything
2) that a contract for HD only would cost less than the current HD and SD contracts
3, and most importantly) that any savings in costs will be passed along to consumers

I seem to recall this year that Dish Network was touting they weren't raising rates on their programming packages. They then changed their secondary receiver rates and that took the form of a rather substantial increase for anyone with more than two receivers. And now they are raising their programming rates.

Edited by Greg Bimson, 29 June 2010 - 08:46 AM.


#138 OFFLINE   tsmacro

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 09:05 AM

I am not really complaining about the dispute myself, yet... but what is this "not raised your bill".... it gets raised pretty much every year, if you aren't getting that higher bill then you must be special! :)


Just pointing out that it's kind of ridiculous to expect a credit whenever there's a carriage dispute and a few channels are pulled, if that were the case we should also expect a rate increase as soon as any new HD is added and obviously that's just not how it works.


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#139 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 09:15 AM

Note that the $65 million over two years and 14 million customers paying monthly is about 2c per month per DISH subscriber. (Yes, that includes non-HD subs but it also includes interest due to DISH's lack of timely payment.)

I realize 2c/5c/10c per channel adds up ... but I don't believe we're looking at ground shattering prices for HD.

#140 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 09:20 AM

... we should also expect a rate increase as soon as any new HD is added and obviously that's just not how it works.

When was the last time the price of HD was raised? DISH has taken some channels out of the original $10.00 package but they have added a lot more than have been moved to Platinum HD.

I remember when $9.99 got you five channels, and the opportunity to see HBO and/or Showtime (if you subscribed to AEP or the premium packages). Now $10 can give you a lot more.

#141 OFFLINE   Greg Bimson

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 09:30 AM

Note that the $65 million over two years and 14 million customers paying monthly is about 2c per month per DISH subscriber. (Yes, that includes non-HD subs but it also includes interest due to DISH's lack of timely payment.)

I still need to read other documents, but from what I gather the interest may not have been ruled upon yet, and depending on the time period awards Disney may yet still be entitled to more damages.

#142 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 09:40 AM

Perhaps I haven't expressed my concerns very well. Let me try this again, perhaps by starting with the what I perceive as the "TV channel" model for the early 21st century.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area we have KGO 7, a broadcast TV channel owned and operated by Disney/ABC. As of the analog shutdown, it transmits over-the-air digital channels 7.1 (KGO/ABC programming), 7.2 (ABC News/Live Well HD) and 7.3 (ABC7 AccuWeather NOW).

As everyone on this forum understands from this, KGO 7 transmits one over-the-air digital version of ABC network (and KGO local) programming. This is a good example of the early 21st century model of a TV channel.

Here in the 21st century, if you still have an old analog SD 480i TV in 4:3 format, you have to buy a box to convert the one-and-only KGO signal offering network programming. If you have one of those digital-tuner SD TV's folks pointed out to me still can be purchased (in 16:9 format) you already can receive the one-and-only KGO signal offering network programming.

If you have an HDTV - you know, an early 21st century TV like the one I've had since 2003 - you can watch KGO's ABC network programming in its true format, delivered by the one-and-only signal (I'm ignoring the old grumble about stations still using SD programming).

Now we come to cable/satellite providers. Under this TV channel model, there is one channel offering Disney-owned ABC programming in the Bay Area DMA - KGO 7.1 digital HD. For awhile, Comcast continued to offer an analog version, but they are shifting to digital only requiring those with analog TV's to have an additional box. All satellite providers begin with a digital-only signal and have provided one or more analog outputs so you don't have to buy a box for your old 480i 4:3 TV.

My point here is that there is one ABC affiliate channel - KGO 7.1 - being transmitted digitally over-the-air. You must have a digital tuner to receive it. If you watch it on an SD TV, that's your choice, but its native format is 720p 16:9 HD. It is TV in 2010, there is no other version of ABC in the Bay Area.

In 2010, cable and satellite providers should be paying for that one Disney-owned KGO channel, not two. Because that is the way TV works in 2010.

Well, at least that's the way I thought TV works in 2010 until I read this court order. Apparently in the Magic Kingdom (and perhaps in other media conglomerate fictions) two time periods exist simultaneously:
  • the late 20th century where an SD channel exists offering programming that involves producers, writers, actors, camera operators, set decorators, etc., who live in the 20th century; and
  • the early 21st century where an HD channel exists offering programming that involves producers, writers, actors, camera operators, set decorators, etc., who live in the 21st century.
By some some miracle of 21st century time travel, Disney (and perhaps other media conglomerate fictions) can deliver a set of programs on one channel from the 20th century as well as a set of programs from the 21st century. And Disney desires ...no... demands that the cable and satellite providers carry both channels of programming and charge me for them.

Me, on the other hand, doesn't see the difference in the programming - it appears to have involved the same production costs - albeit accomplished through the Magic Kingdom's time travel. In fact, it looks suspiciously like the programming's native format is digital 16:9 HD and if there are additional costs incurred, it is to downrez to SD and reformat to 4:3 aspect that was not intended for that.

But some technology-challenged judge at the urging of the Disney folks decided to say (emphasis added):

Defendants license programming networks, consisting of standard definition and high definition programming, to distributors such as EchoStar.

The problem is the word "programming." According to Wikipedia:

A television program (television programme in the United Kingdom, Ireland and many Commonwealth countries) or television show is a segment of content broadcast on television. It may be a one-off broadcast or part of a periodically recurring television series.

"Programming" is content which could be created in 16:9 color HD 3D and delivered in black and white in the old British 576i format and would still be the same content, the same "programming" at least as I understand the TV-biz language.

I'm not willing to accept without protest an absurd TV business model that would have viewers paying for a black and white 576i channel, a black and white 480i channel, a color 576i channel, a color 480i channel and a color 1080i (or 720p) channel all delivering content originally produced for a color 1080i (or 720p) channel.

And I'm not willing to accept without protest an absurd TV business model that has viewers paying for "only" a color 480i channel and a color 1080i (or 720p) channel all delivering content originally produced for a color 1080i (or 720p) channel.

What has gone wrong here is that just because many people still have 480i TVs, instead of delivering one signal like off-the-air we have satellite and cable delivering two signals and Disney and the court describing them as two separate programming channels.

Now tell me that isn't absurd. Maybe I should pay for better technology, but I shouldn't have to pay to have these companies actually deliver lessor technology. And right now, that is what is going on. Tell me those of us with HDTVs aren't paying for duplicate channels in SD and not even getting some channels now producing new programming in HD?

Give me a cogent argument that says any channel that is native 1080i (or 720p) should be offered or carried in 480i by a cable or satellite company when off-the-air the federal government, the channel, and now Comcast (in some places) have already said if you want to watch it on a 480i analog TV, buy a box to convert it. Otherwise join us in the 21st century, which is now over 10 years old.

After all, WRAL began broadcasting in HD in 1996. The ATSC HDTV system had its public launch on October 29, 1998, with live coverage of astronaut John Glenn's return mission to space on board the Space Shuttle Discovery. That was 12 years ago, or 4 generations by technology advancement standards.

Why should I pay for a 480i signal of ABC Family or Disney or ESPN or any other channel? HD isn't some standard just now available for "early adopters." Certainly in June 2010 high definition TV is "standard" TV.

What don't I understand? I know I'm old, so maybe I've missed something younger folks who grew up with computer technology accept. Maybe a lot of folks have opted for technology to stop with their Commodore 64 PCs and their 480i TVs and we all have to adapt backwards to them?:grin:

Edited by phrelin, 29 June 2010 - 09:49 AM.
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#143 OFFLINE   tsmacro

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 09:41 AM

When was the last time the price of HD was raised? DISH has taken some channels out of the original $10.00 package but they have added a lot more than have been moved to Platinum HD.

I remember when $9.99 got you five channels, and the opportunity to see HBO and/or Showtime (if you subscribed to AEP or the premium packages). Now $10 can give you a lot more.


Yep I agree completely. That's why I was saying it's silly for people to expect a credit because "Dish took away some channels from me and i'm paying the same price."


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#144 OFFLINE   inazsully

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 09:49 AM

I think that sometimes we forget why any channel exists. Profit. Mash was a great show, as was Cheers and Gunsmoke and Law and Order. But they eventually all went away. Why? Because they lost viewers. And why did the networks care? Because it became difficult to sell advertising time. The networks spend millions every year to produce these and all other shows. They eventually fell below acceptable profit margins. Every year we see dozens of new shows replacing shows that didn't make it from a profitability standpoint. Why? To sell advertising. Advertising is where the vast majority of a stations profits come from, not contracts with various cable and sat. companies. I will no longer watch SD, PERIOD. Let the advertisers know that their advertising will fall on blind eyes unless it's in HD. That's where the real leverage is.

#145 OFFLINE   Greg Bimson

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 10:14 AM

My point here is that there is one ABC affiliate channel - KGO 7.1 - being transmitted digitally over-the-air. You must have a digital tuner to receive it. If you watch it on an SD TV, that's your choice, but its native format is 720p 16:9 HD. It is TV in 2010, there is no other version of ABC in the Bay Area.

In 2010, cable and satellite providers should be paying for that one Disney-owned KGO channel, not two. Because that is the way TV works in 2010.

We do not know the status of carriage for OTA contracts. Now that there is no "analog" equivalent, we do not know if multichannel carriers are being forced to pay for both an SD and and HD equivalent. We do know that many station groups (including Sinclair in 2005) mandated separate fees for both their analog and their digital channels. It is quite possible once the analog cut-off occurred there were changes within contracts, either renegotiated or standing in the current agreement.

What we do know is that although there was the ability to pick up both the analog and the digital version of these stations before the analog cut-off, there were many station groups that digitized their analog channel and sent it via fibre to a point of presence. Therefore, that 480i channel existed as the analog station prior to the analog cut-off, and can still exist in that form today, delivered to your provider under contract from the programmer.

Why should I pay for a 480i signal of ABC Family or Disney or ESPN or any other channel? HD isn't some standard just now available for "early adopters." Certainly in June 2010 high definition TV is "standard" TV.

Yes, and as you pointed out to me, Dish Network finally stopped charging extra for HD as of 3 June 2010, although techically there are extra monthly fees in additional HD equipment. DirecTV still charges for it. I'm fairly certain most cable companies charge extra for it in the form STB rental if not simply an add-on package. So this "standard TV" costs extra.

The reality is that all providers still charge extra for HD, the programmers charge extra for HD, and the easiest (and hardest) way to "fix" the problem is to vote with your wallet and your eyeballs.

[Edit: then again, I see that Dish Network has AT120, AT180, AT250, and then an additional $10 fee for the HD feeds, so they are still charging extra]

Edited by Greg Bimson, 29 June 2010 - 10:27 AM.


#146 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 10:40 AM

I still need to read other documents, but from what I gather the interest may not have been ruled upon yet, and depending on the time period awards Disney may yet still be entitled to more damages.

It is confusing ... there is a document from last October that mentions interest but it exceeds the $65 million that has been talked about. There would obviously be additional finance charge due per month that the bill remained unpaid.

The thought was that the base cost, if paid on time, would have been negligible.

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#147 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 10:52 AM

My point here is that there is one ABC affiliate channel - KGO 7.1 - being transmitted digitally over-the-air. You must have a digital tuner to receive it.

Fine. If you have a few billion dollars you can upgrade every satellite receiver in the country to one that can use the HD feed. Until then, there will be SD channels.

In 2010, cable and satellite providers should be paying for that one Disney-owned KGO channel, not two. Because that is the way TV works in 2010.

Pay TV isn't the same as "free" OTA TV.

And I'm not willing to accept without protest an absurd TV business model that has viewers paying for "only" a color 480i channel and a color 1080i (or 720p) channel all delivering content originally produced for a color 1080i (or 720p) channel.

Your protest is duly noted. You, sir, have done your duty and tilted at the windmill. :D

In the real world we pay because we can't get the content for free. Those who can get the content for free (via OTA or legitimate distribution sites such as Hulu) don't have to pay for the classic cable/satellite distribution model. If you want to play the cable/satellite game you must play by the rules that the industry follows ... and, logical or not and whether you or I agree with them or not, those rules involve paying for the feed and paying a little bit more to have the feed in better quality.

#148 OFFLINE   James Long

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 11:03 AM

Edit: then again, I see that Dish Network has AT120, AT180, AT250, and then an additional $10 fee for the HD feeds, so they are still charging extra

DISH Network still allows their customers to pay $10 per month for the basic HD packages (HD120, HD200, HD250).
DISH Network also offers free HD packages (HD120 Free, HD200 Free, HD250 Free). The Free HD packages require a commitment, autopay and paperless billing, or the payment of a one time $99 fee. Customers who had HD & Platinum HD before June 3rd were automatically converted to the HDxxx Free package appropriate to their level of programming - with no commitment/autopay/paperless or extra cost.

HD is free ... or it is $10. It all depends on how and when you got HD.

#149 OFFLINE   Greg Bimson

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 12:23 PM

Looks like I need to read a heck of a lot more:

1. The amount of interest with respect to the calculation of interest after the 30th day is allocated as follows:

a) ESPN = $42,562,834 plus pre-judgment interest of $8,080,758
B) ACNG = $9,287,094 plus pre-judgment interest of $1,907,481
c) IFE = $2,715,904 plus pre-judgment interest of $486,158

This is the $65 million that was awarded.

This all has to do with the interest accrued for failure of Dish Network to pay Disney in a timely manner.

I have to wonder, which means I'll have to dig up (or James will :) ) any documentation regarding damages for carrying channels without compensation. With a successful counterclaim, Disney can now walk back into court and demand damages for carrying four HD channels without compensation.

#150 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 01:35 PM

I recognize that I'm tilting at windmills, guys. I expect to pay for technology costs and my own tastes. I can't go to one of the all-HD packages because there are channels missing, some like AMC Dish offers only in SD and some like BBC and FX aren't in the all HD packages. And I can't cancel Disney channels in my AT200 package.

Nor do I know who all at Dish decided it was ok to uplink the Disney and ABC Family HD feeds or why they thought that. I thought a contract had been negotiated when they were added. If they didn't, then they'll have to pay.

With that said, I still think it's stupid for cable and satellite companies to lock themselves into contracts that pretend that SD and HD feeds of the same channel are two channels. What this fiction means is that sometime around 2018-2020 the cable and satellite companies will want to quit offering SD, but the media conglomerates will not want to lose that 2-channel revenue.

Also, providing an SD feed of the content does not mean a carrier has to seek out two signals from the network. Even if Dish has to offer MPEG2 SD feeds because of the boxes out there, it can do so by reformatting and uplinking the HD channel content (in letterbox top and bottom bars). Heck, they already screw with the HD content they get and send out as MPEG4 HD. They shouldn't need to buy two channels from Disney or anyone else.

It's just weird that when broadcast channels go HD, OTA viewers get what they get including a "hey, you gotta get a box." But when a cable channel goes HD, the cable and satellite companies must buy two signals termed by the court as different programming.

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