Dish Network is starting to feel the heat for offering Starz as a free promotion to celebrate the satellite provider’s 30 years of operation — it turns out Starz and Walt Disney aren’t in the mood to party. Both have filed separate suits against Dish, which they are accusing of giving subscribers free access to the premium channel — which includes access to certain copyrighted Disney movies — in violation of existing deals. Disney argues in its suit, filed Monday in New York federal court, that Starz can only show its movies if the channel is acting like a premium service, and that Dish changed the dynamic of the arrangement by giving Starz away for free. Today, Starz joined in the fight in a Colorado district court, saying the promotion violated its contract with Dish. From the Starz filing: “On or around February 1, 2011, Dish began providing virtually all of its subscribers with free access to seven different STARZ channels and one ENCORE channel. In blatant violation of section 5(c) of the Dish Agreement, Dish told consumers that it was giving them these channels for “free.” Specifically, in a communication that, on information and belief, went to virtually all of Dish’s subscribers, Dish stated that “Starz premium movie channels have been added to your account, free for the next 12 months. … To get your free Starz, you don’t need to do a thing—no commitments, no requirements and the offer will be reflected on your monthly billing statement as ‘Starz – Free 12 mo.’ ”
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