Hallmark, AT&T U-verse Back At The Negotiating Table


Hallmark Channels and AT&T's U-verse multichannel video service are back at the negotiating table in their carriage impasse, according to a source at the programmer.

The sticking point appears to be a simple one: Hallmark wants more than AT&T is willing to pay.

Hallmark has been pushing for several years for subscriber fees it believes better reflects that success than the 4 cents-per-subscriber it said it earned in past contracts, even as it began being regularly cracking primetime's top 10.

There had been a standstill in talks since last Thursday, but the parties were talking again Tuesday as the deadline loomed, which could result in a disruption of service for Hallmark Channel and sister network Hallmark Movie Channel.

AT&T's contract expires at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday morning, though Hallmark has indicated its willingness to allow the signal to continue to be delivered past that deadline if the two sides have not reached an agreement. AT&T would not comment on whether it would agree to keep the channel on as well.

Hallmark said it has received a "very, very robust" response to its encouraging consumers to phone and email their support for the services.

Hallmark also has been asking viewers to weigh in at AT&T's U-vese Facebook page, which they have been doing in apparently large numbers, with each posting getting a response from AT&T.

"Hallmark Channels programs are filled with hope, love, and good values. It is disapointing that you all are considering getting rid of these great qualities just to save cold money," read one post (with spelling cleaned up).

"This isn't about us wanting to get rid of the programming you love, it's about Hallmark making unreasonable demands and working out a fair deal with so we can continue providing you the channels you enjoy most," AT&T said in response.

"Wow, I am impressed that AT&T has answered each one of these concerns directly and individually. Hope Hallmark gets the message that they need to be a part of the negotiations too!," another commenter on the page said.

Both sides have apparently gotten the message, but there was no word at press time on the progress of the new talks.