AMC, AT&T U-verse Continue Negotiations as Carriage Contract Expires7/01/2012 6:24 AM Eastern
As their contract expired, AMC Networks and AT&T U-verse continued negotiations early Sunday morning.
The deal between the telco for carriage of the programmer's AMC, IFC and women's- targeted WeTV, concluded at midnight (ET) on July 1. AMC's other national service, Sundance Channel, is not part of the current distribution discussions.
While negotiations continued on that front, Dish Network, as expected, dropped AMC Networks' services with the new month, over what it said was the channels' high costs compared to their relatively low viewership. In early June, the No. 2 DBS provider pulled the plug on Sundance Channel and shifted the other three networks to its 9000-channel neighborhood. With the dawning of July, the distributor placed HDNet Movies into AMC's channel 130 slot, while Style is now found at channel 128, where WeTV previously resided. HDNet, which next week is expected to morph into entertainment and music channel AXS.TV, a joint venture of Mark Cuban, AEG, Ryan Seacrest Media and Creative Artists Agency, will run on Channel 131. IFC was positioned at channel 393.The AMC services had been part of Dish America's Top 200 level of service or better.
AMC said the disconnect came without any negotiations and was tied to ongoing litigation between the No. 2 DBS provider and Voom HD, the suite of defunct channels owned by a subsidiary of Rainbow Media Holdings, AMC Networks' predecessor company.
"Dish claims to put its customers first, yet they've taken away Dish viewers' favorite scripted drama series, AMC's The Walking Dead. Dish dropped our networks not because of ratings or rates," AMC said in a statement. "In fact, Dish has not discussed rates with us at all. Dish customers have lost some of their favorite shows because of an unrelated lawsuit which has nothing at all to do with our programming. Dish customers will not be able to watch the new season of AMC's Breaking Bad premiering July 15, or upcoming seasons of The Walking Dead, Mad Men, or any of our other popular shows. We urge Dish customers who want to have access to our programming to call 1-855-KEEP-AMC or visit www.keepamc.com.
In a distinctly different matter, we are in ongoing discussions with AT&T about a new agreement and will update our viewers as soon as possible."
AT&T, which had stated that AMC was seeking an "excessive rate increase," confirmed that negotiations were continuing, but offered no further comment on Sunday morning.
In March, AMC Networks reached a carriage renewal with Suddenlink, averting a potential service disruption for its quartet of networks, ahead of their contract expiration. At the time, AMC said the deal "recognized the value and popularity" of its programming.
AMC's lineup includes the four-time drama Emmy winner Mad Men, which recently concluded its fifth season, its best with the ratings; Breaking Bad, which has garnered Emmys for the performances of lead actor Bryan Cranston and his sidekick Aaron Paul; and zombie series, The Walking Dead, which has scared up some of cable's top Nielsens among the advertiser-coveted persons 18-to-49 group.