Dispute leaves AT&T ready to drop Rainbow tonight

Neither side in the dispute between AT&T U-Verse and Cablevision-owned Rainbow Media indicated they were closing in on a new agreement before the carriage contract between the two parties was set to expire at 9 p.m. Pacific on Wednesday.

That left open the possibility that U-Verse would drop Rainbow channels AMC, IFC and WE TV, leaving its 2.3 million customers without them. The potential schism comes 11 days before the July 25 season premiere of Rainbow’s marquee series “Mad Men” on AMC.

While the sides were talking into the night, publicly they have continued to spar.

“We’ve made numerous proposals to reach a fair resolution,” AT&T said in a statement Wednesday. “However, (Rainbow) has rejected each of them, instead making unreasonable proposals that give it an unfair competitive advantage.”

Said Rainbow in its statement Wednesday: “Our executives have been at AT&T U-Verse offices for several weeks, doing everything possible to reach an agreement.”

Both sides have taken their battles online, with each soliciting viewers to urge the other side to concede in the battle. Onscreen crawls have also been airing during Rainbow programming to warn viewers.

If the three Rainbow channels are dropped, the first broadcasts to be affected for West Coast viewers will be IFC’s airing of Nicolas Cage starrer “Lord of War” and two Kurt Russell pics, “Executive Decision” on AMC and “Overboard” on WE TV.

Cablevision was involved in one of the year’s most noteworthy carriage disputes, when its customers in New York missed the opening minutes of ABC’s Academy Awards broadcast before an agreement was reached with Disney. The Dolan family owns Cablevision and Rainbow Media as separate entities.

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