AMC Networks channels may be dropped from AT&T’s U-Verse service by midnight Saturday as the sides spar anew over a contract renewal deal.
U-Verse said in a statement issued Wednesday evening that AMC Networks was seeking an “excessive rate increase” for a new carriage deal covering AMC, IFC and We TV. The existing contact expires at 11:59 p.m. EST on Saturday, AT&T said. AMC is also expected to be dropped from satcaster Dish Network’s lineup as of Sunday as a result of a similar contract dispute.
AT&T said the sides were still in talks, but the statement blasted AMC Networks for what it characterized as a decision “to take its negotiations public.”
“We believe the rates they are seeking are disproportionate compared to the viewership we see across their channels,” AT&T said in a statement. “We don’t think that’s reasonable, especially in these economic times, and we will continue to work toward a fair deal.”
AMC Networks reps could not immediately be reached for comment.
The public tussle between the telco and the programmer comes just two years after their last round of contract talks went bitterly down to the wire. In 2010, the dispute raised the specter of U-Verse subscribers missing the season finale of “Mad Men,” though the sides reached a deal in time to avoid disruption.
This time around, the potential blackout of AMC channels on U-Verse and Dish Network platforms comes as fans await the fifth-season premiere of AMC’s acclaimed drama “Breaking Bad” on July 15.
AMC Networks execs have long complained that the channels, formerly owned by Cablevision, earned lower subscriber fees from multichannel video providers than their cable peers. Execs in recent years have hunkered down in an effort to raise those fees. Since the last time AMC and AT&T faced off, AMC Networks has been spun off into a stand-alone public company, increasing the incentive for AMC execs to push for significant rate hikes.
U-Verse has about 4 million video subscribers. Dish Network has about 14 million subs.