U-verse could lose 'Mad Men,' 'Bridezillas,' if distribution deal with Rainbow dies

Rainbow Media and AT&T are at loggerheads as the distribution agreements that bring programming from AMC, WE tv and IFV to the telco's U-verse platform expire this week, with Rainbow turning up the rhetoric vis-à-vis AT&T earning the dubious honor of becoming the first operator ever to drop the award-winning "Mad Men," which has rolled up some 17 Emmy Award nominations and is set to make its season premiere July 25.

The networks' distribution agreements with AT&T expire at midnight ET, Wednesday, July 14, and AT&T has told Rainbow it'll drop the networks if a new distribution agreement is not reached by that time. That move will impact about 2.3 million basic subscribers.

For its part, Rainbow is apoplectic.

"It is troubling that AT&T is threatening to yank AMC, WE tv and IFC, and leave their customers without the hottest show on television, AMC's Mad Men, just before the premiere of the new season," the company said in a statement. "AT&T is acting in an aggressive manner that puts their corporate interests ahead of their customers. We are negotiating in good faith with AT&T and are hopeful that we can reach an agreement as soon as possible so that our viewers don't lose out."

It's even gone so far as to suggest U-verse customers call AT&T at 1-877-9-KEEP ON or go to www.iwantmytvchannels.com.

AT&T's reaction?

A spokeswoman said its data shows some of the Rainbow channels "are among the least-watched and most overpriced per viewer compared to other major programming providers." And, AT&T contends, Rainbow is "trying to force the renegotiation of a contract for one of their other channels that is not yet expired and force us to carry a new channel that wasn't even formally presented to us until after the recent July 1 contract extension. We want our customers to know that we can't and won't give in to unreasonable deals that unfairly disadvantage our customers."

For more:
- see this release

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