NCTC and AMC finally reach distribution deal

The National Cable TV Cooperative (NCTC) and AMC Networks have ended a publicly acrimonious carriage dispute, announcing a deal but no specific terms.

"We are pleased to have reached a new distribution agreement with NCTC," said Bob Broussard, AMC Networks president of network sales, in a statement. "We have enjoyed a long and successful partnership with NCTC, and we look forward to continuing to provide our popular and acclaimed programming to NCTC members and their customers."

"We appreciate AMC Networks' willingness to take the time to understand our members' unique challenges and concerns, and their creativity to construct an agreement that addresses the concerns of many of our members," said Judy Meyka, NCTC executive VP of programming. "AMC Networks has made a significant investment in the programming on their networks and we are pleased that our members have the option to continue offering this programming to their customers."

The deal ends a protracted rhetoric war between the more than 700 cable systems represented by the NCTC and AMC. The programmer had threatened to pull its channel off NCTC systems if a deal wasn't worked out by Jan. 1.

Last week, NCTC CEO Rich Fickle told Deadline Hollywood that a deal by New Year's Day was "unlikely" because "our portion of the industry can't sustain this type of model" with AMC's "extreme conditions."

AMC has experienced significant growth in audience and brand profile since it negotiated its last deal with NCTC systems, thanks to hit series on its flagship AMC channel including The Walking Dead, as well as the now-culminated Breaking Bad and Mad Men.

NCTC member cable systems say that AMC is looking for fee increases of as much as 400 percent in some cases. The programmer's new proposed deal would include digital rights, but also force operators to put AMC's full fleet of networks -- which also include IFC, Sundance TV, WeTV and BBC America -- on their basic tiers.

Bob Gessner, president of NCTC member MSO MCTV, which touts around 47,000 Ohio customers, told Multichannel News that adding the AMC channels to the company's most popular programming tier could consume as many as three QAM streams.

"It doesn't matter where you put them, if you have to add five HD networks, that could knock out 12 MHz out of a 750 MHz plant," Gessner said. "If it's just for WeTV and BBC News, it's not worth the trade-off."

For more:
- read this Deadline Hollywood story
- read this Multichannel News story

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