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ESPNU's Dish Upgrade Unrelated to Suit

10/03/2009 2:00 AM Eastern

Dish Network moved ESPNU to a more widely distributed tier last Wednesday, but ESPN said the shift is unrelated to the pending lawsuit that the satellite-TV operator filed in federal court last month.

Dish moved ESPNU from the Classic Gold 250 package to its Classic Bronze 100 lineup, effective last Wednesday evening (Sept. 30). The channel, previously on channel 148, moved to channel 141.

But ESPN said the change does not indicate the legal issues between the two parties have been settled. “We are pleased to have reached agreement with Dish for the enhanced distribution of ESPNU,” the sports programmer said in a statement. “This is not related to the settlement of any pending litigation. Our position remains that any claims by Dish are without merit.”

Dish declined to comment.

In its lawsuit, which asks for at least $1 million in damages, Dish alleged that ESPN breached its contract by not extending the same carriage terms the programmer provided to Comcast and DirecTV. Dish cited deals ESPN announced in May with Comcast and DirecTV for ESPN Classic and ESPNU, which included what “Dish understands are more favorable” terms than those Dish had agreed to.

ESPN's deals with Comcast and DirecTV were designed to widen distribution of ESPNU in exchange for distributors repositioning ESPN Classic on less widely penetrated tiers.

Currently, Dish offers ESPN Classic on its Classic Silver 200 package.

September