Lifetime Ad-vocates In Dish Dispute

Blacked out in up to 12 million homes because of an impasse with Dish Network, Lifetime Entertainment Services ran a newspaper ad Wednesday in an attempt to build public support for its side of the dispute.

The ad--in the form of an open letter to Dish CEO Charlie Ergen--was signed by the heads of leading women's organizations, and suggested that Ergen doesn't "listen to what women want" or "have their best interests in mind."

Lifetime also enlisted Dish competitor Time Warner Cable in its battle. A Lifetime-funded ad in the "A" section of The New York Times promoted TWC's offer of $200 to Dish customers if they switch over from the satellite operator. (Ads also appeared in the Denver Post and The Rocky Mountain News; Dish is based in Englewood, Colo.)

Dish dropped carriage of female-targeted Lifetime Television and Lifetime Movie Network on Jan. 1 after a deal to carry the channels expired. (Dish has 12 million subscribers, while Lifetime Television is in more than 88 million homes.)



The two sides have been unable to agree on new carriage terms, and are now engaged in a PR war with spin doctors at the ready: Lifetime says it is merely asking for an increase of 4 cents per customer per month; Dish says Lifetime wants a 76 percent increase.

Lifetime also says in the ad that women are missing out on "the inspiration and support they need and deserve on vital issues." Dish says Lifetime is free to provide it with critical information, and will air it during the dispute. Dish also says it is offering customers who miss Lifetime's content the Women's Entertainment and Encore Love networks in the interim.

Lifetime has enlisted such prominent activists as Gloria Steinem and Martha Burk, who waged a high-profile campaign to get the Augusta National Golf Club to admit female members in its struggle with Dish.

Lifetime says it is fighting so "women's voices are heard." Dish says it is fighting for its customers.

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