AMC Sues Time Warner Over Carriage Deal


American Movie Classic Co. late Friday filed suit against Time Warner Cable in New York Supreme Court to prevent the MSO from terminating its carriage agreement with basic network AMC.

According to the suit, Time Warner initially gave notice June 6 -- and again Sept. 30 -- of its "intent to terminate the agreement" with the network because AMC had violated its contract by moving away from a classic-movies format to offering more contemporary films.

In particular, Time Warner referenced a clause that prohibits AMC from airing movies that were produced after 1993, according to the suit. In November, AMC is airing at least two post-1993 movies: The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and Alien: Resurrection (1997).

Time Warner then purportedly offered unilaterally to reduce the licensing fee paid to AMCC for the network once the deal was terminated.

But AMCC claimed that no such clause exists in the agreement and added that its on-air changes do not "give rise to a right to terminate" under the deal.

The company added that the move is more about Time Warner gaining "leverage" over AMCC owner Rainbow Media Holdings Inc. for other programming services.

The suit quoted Time Warner senior vice president of programming Fred Dressler stating that the MSO might send a "nasty" letter threatening termination of the AMCC agreement as leverage for "unrelated" discussions between Time Warner and AMCC parent Rainbow.

"On information and belief, Time Warner is attempting to create doubts about the [AMC] agreement in order to influence negotiations Time Warner is conducting with another company under common ownership with AMCC," the suit said.

A Time Warner spokesman would not comment on the lawsuit, saying that the MSO’s Stamford, Conn., corporate offices had not been served with the suit at press time.