Firing the latest salvo in the NCTC's carriage battle with AMC Networks, Cincinnati Bell CEO Ted Torbeck said that giving into the programmer's demands would result in a 3 percent spike in pay-TV fees for his MSO's customers, whether or not they watch The Walking Dead.
"This is just outrageous what they're trying to do – people don't understand what's going on," Torbeck told the Cincinnati Enquirer. He added that Cincinnati Bell has received more than 1,000 emails from subscribers regarding a possible AMC blackout, which the programmer said will occur on cable systems ripped by the NCTC on Dec. 31 if a new deal isn't worked out.
AMC Networks is locked in a rhetoric-fueled negotiating impasse with National Cable TV Cooperative, which negotiates program licensing for more than 700 smaller cable operators.
Fueled by must-see hits like The Walking Dead, AMC Networks is trying to leverage somewhat typical goals -- in addition to fee increases, it's trying to gain carriage on NCTC systems not just for the AMC channel, but lesser outlets like WEtv, Sundance Channel and IFC.
Rendering these negotiations different: AMC is also trying to buck the skinny bundle/cord-shaving trend by mandating that every NCTC customer pay for its channels, whether or not they have them in their programming bundles.
"We're fighting for our customers, we don't want them to have to pay exorbitant fees," Torbeck said. "We're holding tight. Hopefully, we can work something out."
AMC released an updated statement regarding the impasse last week: "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."
- read this Cincinnati Enquirer story
AMC Networks targets skinny bundles in carriage fight with the NCTC
Shentel says AMC is looking for 379% fee increase from NCTC operators
AMC warns 'Walking Dead' fans of possible NCTC blackout