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EchoStar Makes Peace With Viacom

Englewood, Colo. — Hours before it was to issue its fourth-quarter reports, EchoStar announced it has reached a deal with Viacom to restore 16 CBS owned-and-operated local channels and a number of cable channels to the DISH Network.

The channels were originally dropped at midnight March 8, after EchoStar allegedly refused to pay Viacom a rate increase or give in to its demand to add additional Viacom channels in which EchoStar had little interest.

The two parties said they reached “a long-term, multi-channel agreement” that provides for the satellite TV distribution of CBS, BET and the MTV Networks channels previously carried by DISH Network.

“It’s great to have our networks back in front of all our viewers and to bring a new service, Nicktoons, to DISH Network subscribers,” said Mel Karmazin, Viacom president. “We apologize to our viewers for the disruption in their service and want to thank them for their patience and support. We look forward to continuing to serve our viewers through DISH Network well into the future.”

“This agreement with Viacom allows DISH Network to remain the lowest-cost, all-digital TV provider in the country,” said Charles Ergen, EchoStar CEO. “We understand that this has been a difficult few days for our customers, and we thank them for all the encouragement they have given us throughout. We also look forward to a long relationship with Viacom in which we can provide their quality channels to our viewers.”

The multi-year agreement restores full service of CBS in 16 markets, as well as Comedy Central, MTV, MTV2, Nickelodeon, Noggin, GAS, VH1, VH1 Classic, MTV Espanol and BET in all markets. Additionally, the agreement extends the term of the carriage for CBS HD (East and West) channels, as well as Spike TV, CMT and TV Land. DISH Network will also launch Nicktoons on its America’s Top 180 package this spring.

As part of the agreement, Viacom and DISH Network have settled all litigation between the two companies.