AMC and Dish announce settlement to bring The Walking Dead, other channels back to 14 million customers

AMC Networks and Dish Network have reached a settlement to bring The Walking Dead, among other cable channels, back to millions of customers who were left in the dark after a dispute between the companies led to months of blackout (since July 1).

AMC Networks' flagship channel, AMC, returned to Dish on Sunday in time for the second episode of the new season of The Walking Dead. The premiere of season three drew 10.9 million viewers on October 14, despite being blacked out for Dish's 14 million customers. In an act of kindness (or maybe trying to appeal to the masses as the good guy), AMC offered a free Web stream of the premiere episode to Dish customers.

"We are glad to partner again with Dish Network and are delighted to bring back our popular channels and programming to their customers," said Josh Sapan, the chief executive of AMC Networks.

The disagreement was over a lawsuit by AMC Networks and Cablevision over a breach-of-contract by Dish which decided to cut short on a deal to carry AMC's high-definition service Voom HD. Voom sought more than $2 billion in damages after Dish stopped distributing the channels in 2008; Dish argued it had the right to terminate the contract because Cablevision had not honored its commitment to invest $100 million a year in Voom.

In the settlement, announced on Sunday, Dish will pay $700 million to Cablevision and AMC Networks, $80 million of which is for the purchase of spectrum licenses from Cablevision.

"We are glad to have settled the case and reestablished our long-term relationships with AMC Networks and Cablevision," said Dave Shull, senior vice president of programming at DISH in a separate statement. "This multi-year deal delivers a fair value for both parties." 

Despite reaching an agreement in time to broadcast The Walking Dead, AMCs other channels – the Sundance Channel, WE tv and IFC – will not return to Dish Network homes until November 1, 2012.