AT&T says AMC Networks is seeking an "excessive rate increase" from the telco to keep AMC, IFC and WeTV on U-verse TV, with the current carriage deal set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Eastern on June 30.
Separately, Dish Network has threatened to drop AMC's networks on June 30, also citing the programmer's demands for higher fees.
AT&T said in a statement, "We are making every effort to reach a fair agreement and continue providing these channels to our customers... We've been in ongoing negotiations to renew this agreement, but AMC Networks is seeking an excessive rate increase in our overall fees for the right to deliver these channels."
In a statement Thursday, AMC said, "We are disappointed that, just days before the July 15 season premiere of AMC's Breaking Bad, we have not yet reached an agreement with AT&T that adequately reflects the popularity of our programming and AMC's position as a top tier network with acclaimed shows like The Walking Dead, basic cable's highest-rated scripted drama series."
AMC added that the standoff with AT&T is separate from the situation with Dish, "which has threatened to drop AMC Networks in retaliation for an unrelated lawsuit between the two companies." The programmer was referencing the ongoing legal battle over defunct programming network Voom HD, in which Dish was found to have acted in bad faith in terminating its deal to carry the Voom channels.
According to AT&T, AMC is asking that the telco pay nearly double what it believes other pay-TV operators do, including a smaller-size competitor. "We believe the rates they are seeking are disproportionate compared to the viewership we see across their channels," AT&T said. "We don't think that's reasonable, especially in these economic times, and we will continue to work toward a fair deal."
AMC and AT&T had a carriage spat two years ago, when the programmer was the Rainbow Media Holdings division of Cablevision Systems. That deal expired July 1, 2010, and the two sides reached an agreement on July 15 with no disruption to U-verse TV subscribers.
AT&T has set up a website with more information on its side of the dispute at att.com/fighting4you.