AT&T, Rainbow Up The Rhetoric As Contract Expiration Looms

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With their contract covering AMC, We TV and IFC set to expire at midnight, programmer Rainbow Media Holdings and distributor AT&T U-verse both advanced their positions, if not a deal, through statements.
The contract was originally scheduled to conclude on July 1, before being extended until tonight/tomorrow. Rainbow representatives said the parties continue to negotiate.

Officials at AT&T, which on July 9 began informing its more than 2 million subscribers about the potential disconnect through a set-top box message, would not comment about the status of the talks.
"We are making every effort to reach a fair agreement and continue providing these channels to our customers. It's unfortunate that Rainbow Media, owned by Cablevision, is clearly not negotiating in good faith, is trying to charge significantly more than the average of what our TV competitors pay for these channels, and is acting in a way that harms competition and limits consumer choice," AT&T said in a statement.
"We've made numerous proposals to reach a fair resolution before our current contract with Cablevision's Rainbow Media expires at midnight on July 14. However, Cablevision's Rainbow Media has rejected each of them, instead making unreasonable proposals that give it an unfair competitive advantage," it continued. "We don't want customers to lose their programming. We're fighting for a fair deal because our customers deserve the programming they want, at a fair price. We want to reach an agreement that is fair to our subscribers and for all parties."
U-verse said its customers can get more information at att.com/fighting4you.

For its part, Rainbow officials said AT&T customers should call 1-877-9-KEEP ON or go to www.iwantmytvchannels.com, which also has links to facebook pages and twitter accounts.
As for its comments on the proceedings, Rainbow said: "Our executives have been at AT&T U-Verse offices for several weeks, doing everything possible to reach an agreement that will keep AMC's Mad Men, and other programming from AMC, WE tv and IFC available to their customers. We have been good partners and have been supportive of AT&T since they launched their U-Verse service. We are proud of the programming that we produce at our networks, which has created great value for AT&T. We have agreements with every other television provider in the country and have never had our networks dropped in more than 25 years. We are disappointed that AT&T is publicly threatening to take away our networks, including AMC's Mad Men, just days before the season premiere."
The Emmy-winning retro advertising drama is scheduled to bow its fourth season on July 25.
Relative to rates, SNL Kagan Associates estimates AMC's monthly license fee at 25 cents per subscriber, IFC's at 20 cents and We's at 12 cents.
Although it has not been identified as being subject to being removed from the air if the impasse continues, Rainbow's Sundance Channel garners an estimated 29 cents in monthly license fees, according to Kagan. Rainbow alsp operates We's fledgling spinoff Wedding Central. It's likely that Rainbow is negotiating a broader carriage pact for all of its service with the telco.
At the turn of the year, Rainbow hammered out a renewal with DirecTV on Dec. 31, 2009, prior to the cessation of their contract.

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