Is AT&T-Rainbow dispute a preview of potential Comcast-NBCU problems?

By bringing Cablevision Systems into its ongoing programming carriage dispute with Rainbow Media, AT&T has inadvertently (or perhaps advertently) offered a glimpse into future programming carriage contentiousness when Comcast acquires NBC Universal and its broadcast and cable channels.

While the two sides continued to negotiate beyond a deadline to pull Rainbow channels AMC, WEtv and IFC off U-Verse systems, the most damaging inference in AT&T's present stance is that "Rainbow Media, owned by Cablevision, is not negotiating in good faith" and, even worse is giving a "competitive advantage" to Cablevision.

Rainbow is trying to keep Cablevision out of the equation, sticking to a company line that it's only asking a reasonable price for its programming, including the upcoming launch of a new season of Mad Men. "We have been good partners and have been supportive of AT&T since they launched their U-Verse service. We have agreements with every other television provider in the country and have never had our networks dropped in more than 25 years," a Rainbow statement said.

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

Related article:
Without programming agreement, Rainbow will 'go dark' on AT&T