UPDATE, 12:07 PM SUNDAY: AT&T announced that it has reached a “a fair distribution agreement with AMC Networks for AMC, IFC, Sundance and WE tv.” The deal reached today will keep AMC Networks available to some 4 million subscribers on U-verse TV. Details were not disclosed. AMC and Dish remain at an impasse and Dish has pulled AMC programming and substituted other content. Here’s AT&T’s statement:
“It was important to us on behalf of our U-verse TV customers to come to a positive resolution as quickly as possible. We appreciate everyone’s willingness to make that happen, working diligently over the weekend, so customers can continue to enjoy the programming they love on U-verse, the fastest growing TV service in the country,” said Jeff Weber, President of Content and Advertising Sales, AT&T.
In a separate statement, AMC Networks took a jab at Dish:
It’s telling that AMC Networks has historically been able to negotiate fair agreements with television providers that reflect the value of our content. Yet DISH, which dropped our networks as of July 1 never engaged with us in any rate discussions. DISH customers have lost some of their favorite shows because of an unrelated lawsuit which has nothing at all to do with our programming, our ratings or our rates.”
PREVIOUSLY 4:40 AM: AMC Networks says that it is in “ongoing discussions with AT&T U-verse about a new agreement” to carry its channels — calling their dispute over pricing “distinctly different” from AMC’s battle with Dish Network. At midnight the satellite company dropped AMC, IFC, WE “because of an unrelated lawsuit which has nothing at all to do with our programming,” AMC says. The company asserts that Dish is pressuring AMC to drop a $2.5B breach of contract suit filed in 2008 after Dish dropped the VOOM suite of HD networks. AMC says that Dish ”has not discussed rates with us at all.” Dish says that it’s looking out for its customers by replacing AMC’s networks with “stronger movie and entertainment content” that’s also less expensive.
PREVIOUS, 10:33 PM: Tonight’s midnight Eastern time deadline for AMC Networks to reach agreements with Dish Network and AT&T’s U-verse came and went, meaning that AMC will lose as many as 18 million AMC subscribers in an instant, almost a fifth of its audience. Deadline previously reported that talks were at a standstill and that a last-minute solution was unlikely. Dish also informed subscribers that AMC was being replaced with HDNet Movies on Channel 130, Style on Channel 128, and HDNet (which is evolving into an entertainment and music channel called AXS.TV) on Channel 131. Bloomberg said AMC, the network behind Breaking Bad — which has its season premiere July 15 — The Walking Dead and Mad Men will have its channels removed by Dish and U-verse at 11:59 p.m. New York time. AMC’s dispute with Dish involves expensive litigation with the satellite provider’s former parent Cablevision, but AT&T was a relatively simple disagreement over carriage fees which might be resolved more easily.