Dish Network Sued Over Free Starz Promotion

If you're one of the 14.1 million Dish Network (DISH) subscribers getting a free year of Starz pay-TV programming, better enjoy it while you can. Both Liberty Media (LCAPA), which owns Starz, and Disney (DIS), which supplies a large portion of Starz's content, are suing Dish for cheapening their products by giving them away.

Dish said in a Los Angeles Times article that it pays hundreds of millions of dollars to Starz for the rights to its programming, so it can do what it wants with it. The Starz suit argues that Dish doesn't have the right to give away its content, and that Dish is using its 30th anniversary promotion to calm customers who were angered by the company's other rate increases, according to the Times.

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Consumers could feel the outcome on their monthly bill. Starz normally costs about $13 a month, adding up to $156 a year. Dish, a satellite TV distributor, began offering the complimentary Starz access in February.

Disney's separate suit alleges that Dish's giveaway is hurting the Mouse House's relationship with other carriers of its films.

Adding to the intrigue is the Netflix (NFLX) factor: Dish sees the video-streaming and movie-rental giant as a rival, so it might have introduced the hefty freebie in retaliation for Starz offering its shows and films, including Disney's, through Netflix, unnamed sources said in the story.

Stay tuned, Dish viewers: Just don't expect to stay tuned to Starz without paying up if the suits are successful.

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