Technology, not executive hypersensitivity, accounted for the blackout of last night’s Grammy Awards broadcast on AT&T U-verse systems around Orlando at a potentially controversial moment in the proceedings, the company says. The show went dark just …
2ND UPDATE, 6:45 PM: Al Jazeera America has released a statement about its lawsuit (read here) against AT&T: “Al Jazeera America made a decision to seek judicial intervention in its dispute with AT&T,” the network said. “Unfortunately AT&T’s decision to unilaterally delete Al Jazeera America presented us with circumstances that were untenable — an affiliate that has willfully and knowingly breached its contractual obligations. Accordingly, we had no choice but to take this action and to enforce Al Jazeera America’s rights under its agreement with AT&T — and to compel AT&T to do the right thing. Al Jazeera America’s strong hope is to resolve this matter quickly so that AT&T’s customers will have access to our unbiased, fact-based and in depth coverage of the news that is important to Americans.”
UPDATE, 5:45 PM: Al Jazeera has sued AT&T for refusing to carry the Qatar-based company’s new Al Jazeera America as part of its pay TV service, claiming AT&T is violating a deal it had with Al Jazeera’s U.S. division, according to a filing in Delaware Chancery Court. AT&T officials’ decision amounts to a “wrongful termination of an affiliation agreement,” Al Jazeera said in the filing, which accompanied a sealed complaint, Bloomberg reported late this afternoon. Details on the case came from a cover sheet that contained a brief description of the network’s claims, Bloomberg reported.
The phone service calls it AT&T U-verse Screen Pack, and it will cost $5 a month. Like with competitors such as Netflix — and, notably, Verizon’s new Redbox Instant — AT&T will offer unlimited, instant playback on multiple …
The new agreement means that the phone company’s video customers can stream shows on-demand from the Starz-owned channels to which they subscribe. Starz already has a Starz Play and Encore Play deal with Cox but the company’s content is …
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.”
This weekend could begin a tough stretch for AMC Networks — and for Dish Network customers who enjoy shows such as Breaking Bad. AMC, IFC, and WE will no longer be available to Dish’s 14.1M customers beginning tomorrow night at 11:59 PM ET when the companies’ carriage contract expires. They aren’t talking, so odds are virtually nil that there’ll be a last-minute settlement. And Dish this morning continued its attack on the independent programmer, saying that it will replace AMC’s channels with what it calls “stronger movie and entertainment content.” Dish will offer 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.
AMC says Dish is using its customers as pawns to pressure the cable networks company to drop a $2.5B breach of contract suit involving the VOOM suite of HD channels. But Dish says it’s sticking up for subscribers by resisting a big price hike for the company behind shows including Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and The Killing. “AMC Networks requires us to carry low-rated channels like IFC and WE to access a few popular AMC shows,” says Dish
UPDATE THURSDAY 6 AM: AMC Networks this morning issued a statement about its carriage dispute with AT&T:
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.
We have been consistently supportive partners of AT&T and are proud that our investment in original programming has provided so much value to all of our distribution partners. We hope AT&T will recognize this and quickly reach a fair agreement with us, so their viewers don’t lose out.
PREVIOUS WEDNESDAY 8 PM: While AMC Networks’ carriage dispute with Dish Network is still raging days before the companies’ current agreement expires June 30, AMC now has another carriage standoff that threatens to take the cable channels off more viewers’ TV sets. AT&T just issued a statement that AMC Networks’ AMC, IFC and We tv may go dark on its U-verse platform when the two sides’ carriage deal expires at 11:59 p.m. EST on June 30.
For all the talk about cord-cutting in the digital era, movement in that direction is relatively slow, as many viewers switch from cable to satellite or telepone providers rather than drop multichannel service altogether. Nielsen reports that 98% of viewing remained on traditional TV in Q4 2011. Cable lost more than 2.9 million subscribers as viewers switched to telephone or satellite providers. U.S. homes subscribing to cable, satellite or telephone providers for their TV service declined 1.5% or about 1.5 million last year, according to figures Nielsen released this week. Subscribers adding telco (about 1.9 million) or satellite service (roughly 280K) weren’t enough to make up the difference.
We may see a lot of announcements like this one as Starz’ online distribution agreement with Netflix approaches its February 28 expiration. The new deal with AT&T expands U-verse’s opportunity to stream Starz programming online. The companies didn’t disclose financial terms.
Dallas, TX and Englewood, Colo. – February 13, 2012 – AT&T and Starz Entertainment, LLC, announced today that the companies agreed to a multi-platform, multi-year extension of the Starz-AT&T U-verse® TV affiliation agreement. The extension covers Starz Entertainment’s premium channels, HD, on-demand, and authenticated online services.
AT&T U-verse TV subscribers enjoy currently 19 Starz Entertainment premium channels and feeds; all 14 distinct STARZ and ENCORE channels (including ENCORE ESPAÑOL), West Coast feeds of the flagship STARZ and ENCORE channels, plus INDIEPLEX, RETROPLEX, and the recently launched MOVIEPLEX.
It will be interesting to see whether Cablevision ever discloses how much it spent on legal bills since 2009 to prevent customers of Verizon’s FiOS and AT&T’s U-verse from seeing HD feeds of MSG and MSG+. The regional sports channels are owned by Madison Square Garden, a company that’s controled by the Dolan family which also controls Cablevision. Whatever the cost, it seems to have been for naught: Cablevision today threw in the towel in one of the industry’s longest and most baffling battles after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied the company’s appeal of an FCC order in September requiring MSG to provide the HD feeds to two of its toughest competitors. FiOS customers in the New York area began to receive the sports channels in HD today; U-verse should have them soon.
One of cable’s most irksome long-running battles isn’t over yet: Cablevision is appealing an FCC order that requires MSG — which the cable operator controls — to offer HD feeds of its two New York regional sports channels to Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse. That announcement followed a statement from Verizon today saying that it had “a home-team win in overtime” and promising to offer HD versions of MSG and MSG+ in December to FiOS TV customers in all service packages except FiOS TV Local. The HD feeds are a big deal to fans of the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, the Buffalo Sabres and the New Jersey Devils.
Cablevision’s appeal continues a dispute that began in 2009 – and that seemed to have reached an end last week. The FCC formally approved a decision from its Media Bureau requiring MSG to deal with FiOS and AT&T, and the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals refused Cablevision’s request to stay the FCC order. But Cablevision says it is returning to the court for a stay while it seeks a review of the FCC’s orders. “We continue to believe that an unbiased review of the data can only result in one conclusion: that there has been no competitive harm to the nation’s two largest phone companies,” Cablevision says. “In a highly competitive marketplace like New York, a forced sharing of offerings only deters companies from investing and innovating, which hurts both fair competition and consumers.”
UPDATE, 11:30 AM: DirecTV shares are up 6.3% after it reported better-than-expected sub growth in 3Q — and a three year extension of its deal with AT&T to sell co-branded TV, broadband, and wired and wireless phone services in 22 states. The agreement, which now runs through March 2015, covers areas where AT&T does not offer its U-verse video service. There’s “no material change” in the terms, DirecTV CEO Mike White told analysts in a conference call. He added that it’s “too soon to say” whether DirecTV will offer more bundles with Verizon broadband services. ”The question will be how customer friendly the (Internet usage) caps are.” White says he talks to everybody about packaging broadband service with DirecTV — and that could include Dish Network if it uses the wireless spectrum it’s amassing to sell a wireless Internet service. DirecTV is “thinking
After a three-day blackout of Scripps Networks’ cable networks, including HGTV and Food Network, on AT&T U-Verse, the two sides tonight reached a new distribution agreement. The five Scripps channels affected, HGTV, Food Network, DIY, Cooking Channel and Great American Country have been restored in 2.7 million AT&T U-verse …
If you are an AT&T U-Verse subscriber, you may lose AMC, IFC and WE tv programming at midnight tonight. Hours before the extension between Cablevision-owned Rainbow Media and AT&T is set to expire, the two sides still appear at …