It looked today like the companies were talking about a deal that might resolve AMC Networks’ $2.5B breach of contract suit against Dish Network — and possibly return AMC‘s channels to the No. 2 satellite company — according to Susquehanna Financial Group legal specialist Thomas Claps. On Day One of the trial, lawyers had a half-hour meeting with New York Supreme Court Judge Richard Lowe III, followed by a long private conversation. But when the judge asked if they’d worked things out, they said they hadn’t. That might backfire on Dish: The judge shared the wording of the instructions he plans to give the jury about whether members “may” or “must” infer that some emails that Dish destroyed would have helped AMC’s case. (The trial asks whether Dish had a contractual right in 2008 to terminate its 15-year deal to air the Voom Networks suite of HD channels, now owned by AMC.) While the jury instructions weren’t made public, Claps says that “Dish’s counsel argued extensively…that the Judge’s instruction was improper.” The judge also barred one of Dish’s expert witnesses from discussing a point that the satellite company considers key to its argument. The plan now is for the jury to be selected tomorrow morning. That process could become challenging: Candidates might be scratched if they watch AMC programs, know about the dispute, or subscribe to Dish, Claps says.
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