Verizon (NYSE: VZ) FiOS could be the next multichannel video programming distributor (MVPD) to lose the rights to AMC Networks' programming. Or not. It depends on which side of the upcoming distribution rights dispute you want to believe and the fact that the two sides could engage in varying degrees of brinksmanship for a little more than a month before their current deal expires Dec. 31.
In tried-and-true distribution rights battle fashion, AMC fired the first shot by running a crawl on its channel warning FiOS customers that they may lose such programming as The Walking Dead, Mad Men and Breaking Bad if the two sides can't reach agreement. The crawl included the obligatory encouragement to contact the service provider and make it known that this would be unacceptable.
Almost at the same time, Verizon had more positive programming news after it signed carriage deals with Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA)-owned NBCUniversal that gives it broad TV Everywhere rights to NBCU content in addition to the right to carry content on locally owned NBCU broadcast stations.
In all, the deal includes "more than a dozen networks" along with Comcast SportsNet in Boston, a story in Media Daily News said.
Meanwhile, a Multichannel News story Monday said AMC issued a statement "informing our loyal viewers who are Verizon customers that we are in negotiations" and noting that those negotiations are "ongoing and we are hopeful to reach an agreement that recognizes the fair value of our networks."
Verizon, the story said, responded with its own statement intended to calm its subscribers and take a dig at how AMC has handled retransmission negotiations in the past.
"Verizon has a history of working with top programmers to reach mutually beneficial agreements that enable our customers to continue enjoying the best programming on FiOS TV's industry-leading service," the FiOS statement said. "We continue to work hard on behalf of our customers' best interests. It is unfortunate that AMCN has decided to unnecessarily publicize these discussions, but not surprising as they have a history of using their viewers as pawns in their negotiations with distributors."
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