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Jury selection begins in Cablevision, Dish Network showdown

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

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

Jury selection is scheduled to continue in Manhattan Tuesday morning in a $2.4 billion trial pitting Cablevision Systems Corp. against Dish Network Corp.

A former unit of Bethpage-based Cablevision, Voom HD, filed the lawsuit in 2008, accusing Dish of breaking a 15-year satellite television contract between the companies.

Dish, of Englewood, Colo., says it pulled out of the deal because Cablevision failed to spend a required $100 million annually to develop high-definition programs. Cablevision, which owns Newsday, denies that charge and says Dish unlawfully tried to back out of deal it no longer liked.

The trial, expected to last several weeks, could feature testimony from some of the biggest names in pay television, including founders of the two companies, Cablevision chairman Charles Dolan and Dish chairman Charles Ergen.

Opening arguments are expected to begin later this week.

In the run up to the trial, Dish declined to renew its contract to broadcast programs from Cablevision affiliate AMC, including “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad.” AMC accused Dish of dropping its channels to gain an upper hand in settlement talks. Dish said it dropped the AMC channels for financial reasons.

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