UPDATE: AMC Networks, NCTC Talks Continue Past Contract Deadline

UPDATE: Negotiations continued well after midnight ET on Jan. 1 between AMC Networks and select NCTC member companies, averting a blackout, at least temporarily.

AMC Networks and a coalition of independent cable operators are going down to the wire in negotiations on a new carriage agreement covering about 4 million subscribers, most of them in small and rural markets.

AMC Networks execs and reps for the National Cable Television Cooperative remained in talks Thursday in an effort to hammer out a successor agreement to a deal that expires at midnight Jan. 1. The Lenexa, Kan.-based NCTC in total represents about 850 small cable operators covering about 12 million subscribers, although only a portion of NCTC member companies are involved in the AMC Networks talks.

Tension in the negotiations has been building for some time, with both sides warning viewers for weeks that a blackout threat is looming. AMC is on a mission to secure rate increases for its mothership channel as well as a combination of fee hikes and distribution for SundanceTV, IFC, We TV, BBC America and BBC World News.

AMC is looking to its next round of carriage negotiations with MVPDs to secure meaningful gains for the flagship outlet that has been fortified by one of TV’s biggest hits in recent years, “The Walking Dead.” At present AMC is believed to command far lower per-subscriber fees than competitors such as USA Network, TNT and FX.

In addition to higher fees for AMC, the company is looking for wider distribution of its other channels. Many of the smaller operators have balked at these points at a time when cord-cutting is accelerating and operators are looking to slim down bundles or emphasize broadband service over pricier video packages.

AMC in a statement said it still hoped to reach a deal with NCTC members. “The Walking Dead” is a big bargaining chip, but the immediate leverage is dampened by the fact that the show does not return with new episodes until Feb. 14.

“We have extraordinarily high regard for the NCTC and for its members. We have long supported smaller cable operators, and the particular challenges and considerations that they face in the service of their markets. We will continue to endeavor to do everything we can to make them successful,” AMC Networks said.

One NCTC member already went public with its promise to drop AMC as of Friday. Anchorage-based General Communication Inc., Alaska’s largest cable operator, blamed AMC’s demand for “massive fee increases.”

“We know Alaska ‘Walking Dead’ fans will be disappointed that AMC’s sky-high rates prevent GCI from carrying the show on our traditional TV lineup,” said Bob Ormberg, GCI’s VP of content and product management. It’s telling regarding GCI’s focus on broadband that the company directed viewers to find “Walking Dead” on Netflix (albeit with new episodes delayed by many months) or Vudu, Walmart’s online content distribution platform.

“The good news is that our customers have more viewing choices than ever before and GCI has made sure that fans can watch ‘The Walking Dead’ by other methods with GCI so they won’t miss an episode when season 6 resumes in February,” Ormberg said.

More TV

  • NFL-Sunday-Ticket-DIRECTV

    AT&T CEO Expects DirecTV to Keep NFL Sunday Ticket Exclusively

    AT&T believes it will hang on to DirecTV’s exclusive rights for the NFL Sunday Ticket, even as the league has said it’s considering ending the satellite operator’s exclusivity to extend the out-of-home games package to streaming platforms. “The exclusivity [of Sunday Ticket] should remain as we go forward on DirecTV,” AT&T CEO and chairman Randall [...]

  • FC Edmonton defender Albert Watson (5),

    Mediapro Buys Tri-Lite TV, Sets 2019 Roadmap

    Furthering its expansion in  North America, Spain’s Mediapro has purchased Canadian services company Tri-Lite TV. Put through by Mediapro Canada, the deal comes days after Mediapro confirmed the acquisition of 10-year rights to the Canadian Premiere League, a new soccer competition to launch April 27 across the country. Mediapro has also announced global revenues for [...]

  • BBC Studios' ‘Great Bake Off’ to

    APOS: BBC’s ‘Great Bake Off’ to be Reheated in Thailand

    BBC Studios Distribution has sold the Love Productions format “The Great Bake Off” for production in Thailand. It is the cooking competition show’s first localized version in Asia. “Bake Off Thailand” will be produced by APJ&CO, a local production house known for producing the recent seasons of “The Voice Thailand.” Over eight weeks, 12 of the country’s [...]

  • Lutz Schüler Replacing Tom Mockridge at

    Lutz Schüler Replacing Tom Mockridge at Liberty Global’s Virgin Media

    Lutz Schüler is taking the reins at U.K. cabler Virgin Media, replacing media industry veteran Tom Mockridge who is stepping down. New Zealander Mockridge is exiting to move base himself in Italy with his family. He has had a long career in pay TV and newspapers. In TV he worked at several Rupert Murdoch baked [...]

  • Movistar+ Announces Ambitious Original Series ‘La

    Movistar+ Announces Ambitious Original Series ‘La Unidad’

    MELILLA, Spain — Spain’s pay TV leader Movistar+ has announced its newest original series, the anti-terrorist police drama-thriller series “La Unidad,” which started filming last week in the small autonomous Spanish community of Melilla, located on the Moroccan coast. One of the biggest international plays to date for Movistar +, the pay TV/SVOD unit of [...]

  • Visitors arrive at the Hudson Yards

    AT&T Sells WarnerMedia Hudson Yards Space to Pay Down Debt

    AT&T has cut a deal to sell and lease back its WarnerMedia office space in New York’s glitzy Hudson Yards development for $2.2 billion to help pare down its enormous debt load. AT&T said Tuesday it has set a deal to sell its office space at 30 Hudson Yards to an affiliate of Related Companies, [...]

  • Japanese actor Ken Watanabe poses on

    Ken Watanabe to Star in Japan Edition of 'The Fugitive'

    Warner Bros. International Television Production and Japan’s TV Asahi network are teaming to remake “The Fugitive” as a special program that celebrates TV Asahi’s 60th anniversary. Ken Watanabe (“The Last Samurai,” “Godzilla,” “Inception”) will star in the title role made famous by David Janssen in the 1963-1967 U.S. TV series and then by Harrison Ford [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content