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AMC Nets shares surge after AT&T deal

Stock up more than 10% in flat market despite Dish bailing

Shares of AMC Networks surged on Monday more than 10%, a dramatic upswing in a flat and edgy market, after being battered for weeks by dueling carriage battles.

The stock closed up 10.27% at $39.20 after news Sunday that the company had reached a rate agreement with AT&T, meaning no interruption of AMC channels for the 4 million subscribers to the telco’s U-verse video service.

Dish Network, as expected, dropped the networks, including AMC, IFC, WeTV, at midnight Saturday (It had earlier dropped Sundance Channel). Dish said overall fees were too high given the ratings. AMC insisted the move was a Dish ploy to gain leverage ahead of a trial between the two scheduled for September.

While losing Dish’s 14 million subs, even temporarily, is a blow to AMC, Wall Street is clearly relieved that the defection isn’t setting a trend among other video services. Investors also tend to favor AMC in the litigation after an early ruling went against Dish. AMC has asked for $2.5 billion in damages as part of a breach-of-contract lawsuit.

Dish warned of its intention to drop AMC over a month ago, and the stock crashed by almost 20% from over $44 in early May to $35.55 last Friday — when it appeared the nets were in danger of losing AT&T as well as Dish.

AT&T prexy of content and advertising sales Jeff Weber said: “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.”

AMC is home to “Mad Men” and the “The Walking Dead.” “Breaking Bad” has its season premiere on July 15.

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