[01/22/06 - 12:00 AM]
Lifetime Rejects Unfair and Unreasonable 'Take It Or Leave It' Offer from Dish Network

[via press release from Lifetime]

Lifetime Rejects Unfair and Unreasonable 'Take It or Leave It' Offer From DISH Network

DISH Sought Draconian Cuts in Rates for Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network As a Result, the Two Top-Rated Women's Networks Will Remain Unavailable to DISH Subscribers

Building on Groundswell of Support from Viewers and Advocates, Lifetime Launches National Campaign to Encourage DISH Subscribers to "Switch from DISH"

NEW YORK, Jan. 22 -- Lifetime Entertainment Services today rejected an unfair and unreasonable "take it or leave it" offer from DISH Network that would have crippled Lifetime's and Lifetime Movie Network's ability to offer quality entertainment and impassioned advocacy on behalf of women. Lifetime will undertake a national multi-media campaign to encourage DISH customers to "Take Back Your Lifetime" by switching from DISH because Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network's programming will remain unavailable on DISH.

On New Year's Eve, DISH unilaterally yanked the #1 and #2 women's networks off the air, falsely and repeatedly asserting that Lifetime sought a 76% increase in its fees. This is an absolutely bogus number. Lifetime only asked for a modest increase of a few pennies per month in its fees for the two networks combined. In fact, negotiations broke down on New Year's Eve and have broken down yet again over DISH's insistence that Lifetime accept a draconian cut in rates that would be far below fair market value.

In the weeks since DISH's drastic action, there has been a groundswell of support for the two networks from viewers, leading women's advocates and from cable and other satellite providers. Nonetheless, DISH chose to continue to deny millions of its subscribers the two most popular women's networks, even after Lifetime offered to extend the existing contract while the two sides negotiated.

"Despite the fact that Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network are the two most-watched women's networks, including among DISH's own subscribers, DISH sought to drastically cut the rates they pay," said Betty Cohen, President and Chief Executive Officer, Lifetime Entertainment Services. "We chose this course of action to protect the integrity of our programming and the vibrancy of our advocacy, and we are committed to continuing to provide the high quality entertainment and support that our viewers have come to expect."

Cohen added, "The rates we have proposed to DISH are highly competitive relative to what we believe DISH is paying for other networks -- including networks that are far less popular -- and would not add to DISH customers' costs. We continue to be open to an agreement with DISH that is fair to us, to our viewers and to other providers, and which reflects the value of our networks, but we have not once heard such an offer from them in more than seven months of negotiations."

Said Cohen, "Considering that these are top networks in all of basic cable, it is incomprehensible that DISH refuses to pay for a fair and reasonable contract for Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network."

Concluded Ms. Cohen, "The extraordinary support we've received from hundreds of thousands of women across the country, along with the efforts by cable operators and other satellite providers to attract DISH subscribers, validates the high value of Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network, especially the irreplaceable programming and impassioned advocacy."

Lifetime Networks are Top Women's Networks and Overall

Cohen noted that DISH has never offered more than three women's networks. In comparison, DISH carries 46 sports networks and seven pornography channels among its more than 180 slots. "Apparently, DISH has a quota on women's programming that precludes them from offering the top women's networks. What's more, while they are depriving women subscribers of their favorite programs, they have the audacity to raise their prices by $2 to $3 per month starting on February 1. There is no substitute for Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network. Clearly, DISH subscribers are paying more for less."

* In 2005, Lifetime was the #4 most popular basic cable network, ranking higher than Discovery, MTV, and CNN, among others.

* Lifetime Movie Network was ranked as the "favorite" network and "the most important to the enjoyment of DISH" by DISH Network subscribers, according to the latest Beta Satellite Subscriber Study of mid-sized (40-70 million subscribers) and emerging (less than 40 million subscribers) networks.

* Lifetime Movie Network also had the highest perceived monthly value to DISH Network subscribers, according to the same study.

* Last year, Lifetime Movie Network was ranked #12 in total day ratings among basic cable networks.

* Lifetime Movie Network's ratings were equal to or better than channels like MTV, Spike TV, The Travel Channel, History Channel, Court TV, The Learning Channel (TLC), Food Network, and Home & Garden Television, all of which are carried on DISH.

In addition, the networks are introducing exciting new programming such as the Lifetime Original Movie, "For One Night" starring Raven-Symone; two new reality series, "Cheerleader Nation" and "Face the Family"; and a new comedy, "Lovespring," from Will & Grace's Eric McCormack that will all be unavailable to DISH subscribers.

Lifetime to Expand "Switch from DISH" Campaign Nationwide

Lifetime announced plans to expand nationwide its current campaign to encourage customers of DISH Network to "Take Back Your Lifetime" and "Switch from DISH" to DIRECTV or a local cable provider. The campaign includes:

* A multimedia campaign of radio, television and print advertising in markets across the country, as well as aggressive Internet marketing;

* A stepped-up campaign to promote Lifetime's and Lifetime Movie Network's programming and the value it provides our viewers;

* Marketing partnerships with DIRECTV and local cable operators, who are offering discounts and other incentives to subscribers who switch their provider;

* These incentives will be combined with incentives offered by Lifetime to "Switch from Dish."

The Hearst Corporation and The Walt Disney Company, which are 50/50 owners of Lifetime Entertainment Services, have endorsed this decision and will apply their resources to help ensure that Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network are available to the widest possible viewership.

Lifetime also is partnering with women's advocates and organizations across the country to raise awareness of Lifetime networks' critical support of issues of vital importance to women, such as breast cancer, heart disease, domestic violence and more.

Lifetime released excerpts of letters sent by advocates for women lauding the networks' programming and advocacy:

* "Lifetime networks offer programming that covers issues crucial to women -- such as breast cancer, violence against women, economic equality and girls' self-esteem -- which are virtually ignored by other networks." - Martha Burk, Immediate Past Chair, and Susan Scanlan, Chair, National Council of Women's Organizations, nonpartisan, nonprofit umbrella organization of almost 200 groups that collectively represent over ten million women across the United States, ranging from Business and Professional Women/USA to the National Organization for Women

* "Lifetime is uniquely important to women." - Peggy Sanchez Mills, CEO, YWCA USA

* "Lifetime has made a corporate-wide, years-long commitment to providing quality entertainment, while also offering information, education and resources on issues critical to women's health and safety." - Rita Smith, Executive Director, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

In addition, eight of ten women members of the Congressional Black Caucus wrote that without Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network, there will be fewer "diverse channels available for people to watch. This is a step backwards and we strongly believe that there needs to be more diversity on television, not less."

Lifetime also has received thousands of supportive comments from viewers not only supporting Lifetime but also complaining about DISH's high-handed tactics in yanking Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network off the air and not supporting diversity in women's programming. About Lifetime Entertainment Services

LIFETIME is the leader in women's television, and LIFETIME Television is one of the top-rated basic cable television networks. A diverse, multi-media company, LIFETIME is committed to offering the highest quality entertainment and information programming, and advocating a wide range of issues affecting women and their families. LIFETIME Television, Lifetime Movie Network, Lifetime Real Women, Lifetime Home Entertainment and Lifetime Online are part of LIFETIME Entertainment Services, a 50/50 joint venture of The Hearst Corporation and The Walt Disney Company.

Web Site: http://www.lifetimetv.com

  [january 2006]  


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