Court filing hints at possible Dish, Cablevision settlement

Thu Oct 18, 2012 6:03pm EDT

* Court files entry that mentions "poss. settlement"

* Court later takes out reference to settlement

* AMC shares rise 4 percent

* Judge's chambers calls filing a "mistake"

* Trial set to resume Monday with Ergen testimony

By Liana B. Baker

Oct 18 (Reuters) - The high-profile legal battle pitting Dish Network against Cablevision took another unexpected turn on Thursday when the court electronically posted an entry that pointed to a potential settlement.

Voom HD, a former Cablevision unit, sued Dish in 2008, saying the satellite television distributor violated a 15-year deal to carry HD programming and should pay $2.4 billion in damages. The trial has been unfolding in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan since Sept. 28.

On Thursday, the court posted a docket entry dated Oct. 22 that said "9:30 AM Poss. Settlement."

A few hours later, however, the court changed the entry to remove the mention of a settlement. A person who answered the phone at the judge's chambers on Thursday described the possible settlement filing as a "mistake."

Shares of AMC, a Cablevision subsidiary that now houses the Voom assets, closed up nearly 4 percent at $45.27 on Thursday. Analysts have said a settlement could restore AMC Networks' channels on Dish's system and restore the 13 percent of AMC's subscribers that were lost after Dish blacked out AMC in July.

Cablevision declined to comment on the filing. Dish, which ranks as the nation's third-largest pay-TV provider with 14 million subscribers, also declined to comment.

AMC's cable networks, which include the eponymous channel that airs "Walking Dead" and "Mad Men," IFC, Sundance, and WE, have been blacked out on Dish systems since July as a result of a contract dispute.

The confusion over the docket entry is the latest twist in a case that has brought high-profile witnesses such as Cablevision founder and Chairman Charles Dolan and AMC Network's CEO Josh Sapan to the stand.

On Tuesday, senior Dish executive Carolyn Crawford stormed out of court after the judge ordered her to hand over her laptop to look for evidence that had not been turned over in the case.

Crawford also shoved the 83-year-old father of Cablevision attorney Orin Snyder and said, "I hope you are proud of your son," said one witness who declined to be named.

Dish attorney James Bennett said in court on Wednesday that Crawford was sorry for her actions asked to address the judge on Monday.

Press shy billionaire Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen was scheduled to testify on Wednesday but the judge unexpectedly dismissed the jury and said the trial would resume on Monday. Ergen is expected to take the stand then.

The case is Voom HD Holdings v. EchoStar Satellite, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 600292/2008.

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