Voting machine company Dominion has settled its defamation lawsuit with Fox News.
Dominion Voting Systems sued Fox over its coverage of false claims that the company rigged the 2020 US presidential election to prevent Donald Trump‘s victory.
The trial was scheduled to begin on Monday but just a few hours before it was due to start, the judge announced the hearing would take place on Tuesday instead.
The settlement heads off what would have been the biggest media trial in decades.
Judge Eric M Davis did not reveal a reason for the delay but sources indicated the two companies were in talks over a settlement.
The trial at Delaware Superior Court was due to last around five weeks.
Emails, texts and other documents produced as part of the lawsuit showed that many of the controversial right-wing network’s hosts, executives and producers did not believe the vote-rigging allegations but aired them anyway.
Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch and the network’s high-profile stars Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity had been expected to testify in the closely-watched case.
It was considered a test of whether Fox’s coverage crossed the line between ethical journalism and the pursuit of ratings – which Dominion alleged but Fox denied.
Dominion argued that Fox News made the claims to boost its faltering TV ratings.
It claimed the news channel “sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process,” according to a copy of the lawsuit.
“The truth matters. Lies have consequences,” the lawsuit said. “If this case does not rise to the level of defamation by a broadcaster, then nothing does.”
Founded in 2002, Dominion Voting Systems produces and sells electronic voting hardware and software.
Judge Davis had sanctioned Fox last week after it withheld records until the eve of the trial.
That evidence included recordings of Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, saying in pre-taped Fox appearances that he did not have any evidence to back up the false allegations of election rigging.