AMC chief Josh Sapan was under the gun today as Day 3 of the VOOM trial focused on a key question: Did AMC and its former parent, Cablevision, hide from Dish a budget that would have clearly given the satellite company the right to end its 15-year agreement to carry the now-defunct VOOM suite of HD channels? AMC’s $2.5B suit alleges that Dish breached the contract in 2008 when it dropped VOOM. But Dish says AMC and Cablevision already violated the deal by failing to invest at least $100M a year in VOOM — something the budget would have revealed. Challenged to explain why it wasn’t shown to Dish, Sapan said the company “never raised questions about what we were spending on,” according to an account of today’s proceedings by SNL Kagan reporter Deborah Yao. The CEO added that the budget was just hypothetical because it hadn’t been approved by the board. Dish’s lawyer also pressed Sapan to say that the $100M spending requirement applied to domestic programming — not overhead and overseas expenses. But the AMC exec said it was “crystal clear” in negotiations that the dollar figure covered all costs, Barclays Equity Research analyst Anthony DiClemente reports. Dish Network CEO Charlie Ergen is expected to take the stand next week.
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