Is programming agreement in the cards for AT&T, Hallmark?

It may not rank up there with the Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC-WI)-Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) dispute (what does?) but AT&T (NYSE: T) is embroiled in its own little U-Verse programming brouhaha with Crown Media's Hallmark Channel. The service provider's agreement to carry the channel expires Sept. 1 and things don't look good at this point that it will be renewed.

AT&T, in a news release, cited "Crown Media's unreasonable and inflexible demands" and said it was "surprised that Hallmark has decided to take its negotiations public instead of working with us in good faith." Of course AT&T brought up the specter of customers who would be punished if the two sides don't reach agreement. Hallmark's public statements included accusing AT&T of "scare tactics" and noting it is "disappointing that AT&T U-Verse does not see the value we bring to their customers."

In an unrelated AT&T development, the service provider said it has launched a new account manager application, giving U-Verse subscribers "quick and easy access to make U-Verse TV package upgrades, compare TV packages, view channel lineups, view their account summary, view product overviews and ordering information on U-Verse High-speed Internet and U-Verse Voice, among other things." Soon they might be viewing a channel lineup sans Hallmark.

Meanwhile, as the Time Warner Cable-Disney fracas drags on, the cable provider has entered into a side battle with Verizon (NYSE: VZ) FiOS over who has the most HD channels. Inevitably, it seems, the battle brought in sports; in this instance Cablevision Systems' (NYSE: CVC) lock on New York metro sports programming.

TWC claims to have all nine New York area sports teams available in HD, but that's "only possible because of an FCC loophole used by Cablevision through which they share the HD feeds for some of these channels with their cable brethren but withhold the channels from us," Verizon said in comments reported by Broadband Reports.

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Related articles:
Sports programming at core of AT&T-Cablevision dispute
Without programming agreement, Rainbow will 'go dark' on AT&T
Time Warner Cable preps FiOS attack even as it allies with Verizon on contract negotiation rules

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