ESPN: Dish's Move Of ESPNU Unrelated To Lawsuit

Satellite Operator Claimed ESPN Violated Terms of Contract

Dish Network will move ESPNU to a more widely distributed tier starting Wednesday, but ESPN said that's unrelated to the pending lawsuit that the satellite TV operator filed in federal court last month.

The DBS operator will move ESPNU from the Classic Gold 250 package to its Classic Bronze 100 package, effective Wednesday evening. The channel, currently on channel 148, will move 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 Classic on less widely penetrated tiers.

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