AT&T OK with AMC; Dish breaks off service

It was a busy weekend in the programming-content business. The results: AMC Networks (Nasdaq: AMCX) is on-again with AT&T (NYSE: T) U-verse and off-again with Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) as the two carriers took different routes to resolve distribution agreements with the network.

AT&T announced it had reached a "fair distribution agreement" with the network that will keep its AMC, IFC, Sundance and WE TV channels available to U-verse IPTV subscribers. The deal did not come without the requisite saber rattling, including an AT&T threat to drop service because AMC was seeking an "excessive rate increase" before both sides sheathed the sabers and settled because "it was important to us on behalf of our U-verse TV customers to come to a positive resolution as quickly as possible," Jeff Weber, president of content and advertising sales said in a statement issued by AT&T.

Things weren't quite so rosy for Dish Network subscribers who might have been looking forward to watching upcoming Dish shows like "Breaking Bad." On the other hand, AMC's other big hit, "Mad Men," just concluded its season so subs had a chance to keep track of that merry band of advertising execs.

Dish's take on the matter is that it's a subscriber gain because the service provider is replacing the AMC channels with "stronger movie and entertainment content" that includes HDNet Movies, Style and HDNet.

"AMC Networks requires us to carry low-rated channels like IFC and WE to access a few popular AMC shows. The math is simple: it's not a good value for our customers," Dave Shull, senior vice president of programming for Dish said in a news release.

AMC issued a rebuttal that praised AT&T and took a slap at Dish.

"It's telling that AMC Networks has historically been able to negotiate fair agreements with television providers that reflect the value of our content," the company said in an unattributed statement. "Yet Dish, which dropped our networks as of July 1, never engaged with us in any rate discussions.

Dish and AMC are locked in a breach-of-contract lawsuit where AMC seeks $2.5 billion in damages. That suit, AMC said, has everything to do with Dish's decision to drop the service.

"Dish customers have lost some of their favorite shows because of an unrelated lawsuit which has nothing at all to do with our programming, our ratings or our rates," the company's statement concluded.

Dish, of course, had a different take.

"One of AMC's biggest historical draws has been movies. However, their performance has been trumped by other Dish movie offerings, including the many thousands of titles available on [email protected] and from top-quality providers such as HBO, Showtime, Starz, EPIX, MGM HD, IndiePlex and RetroPlex," Shull said in the Dish news release.

For more:
 - see this news release
 - and this release
 - read this story

Related articles:
Dish to replace AMC, IFC and WE with free movies, HDNet and Style
AT&T battles AMC over content fees