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Cable Chiefs Discuss Reality Programming, Apple Model And Blackberry Obsession

By | Wednesday March 7, 2012 @ 4:28pm PST

Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TV coverage

AMC’s EVP original programming Joel Stillerman claimed not to be concerned that Mad Men will have been off the air in originals for some 17 months by the time it finally returns for its fifth season on March 25. Speaking this afternoon at an HRTS Luncheon at the Beverly Hilton billed as a Cable Programming Summit, Stillerman said that Mad Men’s audience has proven to be among the most loyal in all of television, adding, “So while it’s never easy to make scheduling decisions that keep a show off the air longer than perhaps you’d like, I think it’s going to benefit the show in the long run, I really do.” Mad Men Jon Hamm had a slightly different view of the situation when appeared on Late Show with David Letterman last week. “When billionaires fight, it takes a lot longer to settle,” he said. “So we had some very wealthy people determining how long we would be off the air.”

The event, moderated by Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush, also featured Turner programming chief Michael Wright, MTV programming head David Janollari, ABC Family programming/development EVP Kate Juergens, and Starz managing director Carmi Zlotnik. All of the panelists agreed that non-scripted programming needs to be an increasing part of their overall original slates. “We should have been in the non-scripted space two years ago,” Wright admitted, “so we’re moving there very quickly now.” Wright also took the opportunity on … Read More »

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AMC Networks Chief Weighs Programming Revamp: UBS Confab

AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan told analysts at the UBS Annual Global Media and Communications Conference that he’s “exploring changing the mix of content on AMC” based on the recent success of its zombiefest The Walking Dead – and four non-fiction series he plans to introduce beginning next year. He wasn’t specific about how a revamped channel would look, though. “We’ll see how it goes,” he says. It’s easy to appreciate why he wants to shake up people’s perception of AMC. Pay TV companies currently pay about 25 cents a month for each home that receives the channel. But Sapan says that, with its many original shows, in a perfect world it’s “at minimum a 75 cent channel. …. We’re way underpaid.” He’s a realist, though, acknowledging that “we’re not necessarily going to get that tomorrow.” As a result, Sapan talked up his company’s efficient management of costs. For example, he says that his development costs are “modest.” Although it owns most of its non-fiction shows — “they’re not that expensive,” he says — for most of the shows on AMC “we have chosen not to 100% own.” Sapan says that ”it’s about risk appetite. … If a studio partner is going to come in and fund 30-odd percent of the cost, it’s sensible to de-risk that transaction.” Of course he has second thoughts about not seizing the chance to own AMC’s hit Mad Men. He wasn’t convinced that AMC would do so well with a talky series about ad execs in the 1950s and ’60s. ”It took everybody by surprise,” he says. But he was more confident about Walking Dead. ”That ownership decision was the wisest and best one,” Sapan says. Read More »

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UPDATE: Rainbow And AT&T Ink New Deal, ‘Mad Men’ Season Saved On AT&T U-Verse

Nellie Andreeva

at&t u-verseAT&T and Rainbow Media just announced they have reached an new carriage agreement for Rainbow’s AMC, IFC and WEtv on AT&T U-verse 16 hours after their most recent extension expired and 10 days before the fourth season premiere of Mad Men on AMC. Here is AT&T’s statement:

We’re very satisfied that we were able to reach the fair deal we wanted for our customers — one that includes the right content, across platforms, at prices that are in line with the marketplace, and that helps us with important strategic content initiatives.

Rainbow Media’s statement might shed light on a key issue in the two sides’ negotiations as it mentions the company’s Sundance Channel as a fourth channel alongside AMC, IFC and WEtv that is covered by the new agreement.

We’re pleased to have reached an agreement with AT&T for AMC, WE tv, IFC and Sundance Channel that truly recognizes the value of our networks.

AT&T had complained that Rainbow “had been trying to force the renegotiation of a contract for one of their other channels that is not yet expired,” something that AT&T initially resisted.

PREVIOUS 9AM: The midnight deadline came and went, but Rainbow Media’s AMC, IFC and WEtv stayed on AT&T U-verse systems as the two sides continue to negotiate a new carriage agreement. The two companies also went in silent mode as they try to hammer a new deal for some 2.3 million U-verse subscribers. Meanwhile, one of those … Read More »

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Carriage Dispute Threatens ‘Mad Men’ Debut

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: Some 2.3 million subscribers in the country may lose AMC next week, just days before the Season 4 premiere of the network’s flagship drama Mad Men, which returns July 25. Broadband TV operator AT&T U-verse could drop Rainbow Media’s AMC, WE tv and IFC when the companies’ current carriage deal expires at midnight on July 14 unless a new agreement is reached. AT&T and Rainbow had been negotiating unsuccessfully for the past six months on a new contract to replace their previous one, which expired on July 1. The two sides agreed to a two-week extension but are now at an impasse. Rainbow has started notifying its viewers about the possibility of its 3 channels going dark on AT&T systems. “AT&T is acting in an aggressive manner that puts their corporate interests ahead of their customers,” AMC said in a statement. “We are negotiating in good faith with AT&T and are hopeful that we can reach an agreement as soon as possible so that our viewers don’t lose out.”

Meanwhile, AT&T argued that AMC’s demands are unreasonable. “Based on aggregate data we obtained from third party industry sources and our own subscribers, some of the Rainbow channels are among the least-watched and most overpriced per viewer compared to other major programming providers,” an AT&T spokeswoman said. “They’re also trying to force the renegotiation of a contract for one of their other channels that is not yet expired and force us to carry a new channel that wasn’t even formally presented … Read More »

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