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Contract dispute between HBO and Dish escalates

Dish Network subscribers in Texas hoping for a quick restoration of HBO channels may have to keep waiting. Subscribers first experienced a blackout of service at the beginning of November when signals were dropped for HBO and its related channels. Since then, the negotiations have become increasingly tense and unproductive. Dish claims the telecommunications company that now owns HBO is using the popular cable channel as a "weapon" because they also own a competing satellite TV service.

The head of Dish Network has accused HBO's parent company of anti-competitive behavior, stating that customers wishing to get the premium channel back will be forced to sign up for service from the satellite provider that company owns. While contract disputes of this nature rarely get to the point where service is disrupted, HBO contends it was Dish that opted to drop signals at midnight on the last day that the previous contract was still in effect.

HBO reportedly offered to extend the existing contract while negotiations took place. Dish officials originally agreed to do this, but they backed out at the last minute. The sticking point in the negotiations is said to be that HBO demands that Dish adhere to a minimum number of customers it will pay for. Dish is also concerned that HBO's parent company is making it very difficult for them to attract new customers by offering HBO free for life to customers of its satellite TV service and providing access to a stand-alone streaming service. HBO counters by saying their contract terms were "advantageous to Dish."

When contract disputes similar to this can't be worked out among parties, litigation is sometimes necessary to resolve key issues in a way that's fair for consumers. Legal action in contract disputes tends to focus on possible violations of contract terms or applicable industry or government regulations. An attorney handling this case, for instance, might focus on the anti-competitive allegations. Oftentimes, the role of a lawyer during contract disagreements is to find common points of agreement between parties.

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