Cablevision, Dish may be near settlement

The Cablevision Systems Corp. headquarters in Bethpage. (Nov.

The Cablevision Systems Corp. headquarters in Bethpage. (Nov. 19, 2010) (Credit: Bloomberg News)

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Lawyers for Cablevision Systems Corp. and rival Dish Network Corp. are scheduled to appear before a Manhattan judge Monday for a possible settlement of their $2.4 billion legal battle, according to an entry that appeared briefly Thursday on the court's calendar.

The entry, reported by Bloomberg News, was later removed.

While Cablevision and Dish both declined to comment, the report triggered speculation that the trial might be resolved three weeks after it began in State Supreme Court.

Anthony DiClemente, an analyst for Barclays, issued a report Thursday saying the evidence in the case has "overwhelmingly" supported Cablevision. Dish, he wrote, might pay between $200 million and $1 billion in a settlement.

Both companies' stock prices hit 52-week highs Thursday. Cablevision shares were up 4.34 percent, to $18.52. Dish shares climbed 4.75 percent, to $35.74.

Cablevision's former unit, Voom HD, filed the lawsuit in 2008, accusing a Dish affiliate, EchoStar Corp., of breaking a 15-year agreement to broadcast high-definition channels over its satellite network. Cablevision, which owns Newsday, says it lost $2.4 billion in revenue when the deal collapsed.

Dish, of Colorado, argues it broke off the deal because the Bethpage company failed to spend a required $100 million annually on programs.

The trial has featured testimony from several high-profile television executives, including Cablevision founder and chairman Charles Dolan. Dish founder Charles Ergen was expected to testify this coming Monday.

Judge Richard B. Lowe III has admonished Dish for destroying evidence, barred several of its witnesses from testifying and forced it to release emails that Cablevision says prove Dish unlawfully reneged on the deal.

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