AT&T slams AMC Networks’ carriage complaint to FCC

AT&T said that if the FCC granted relief to AMC Networks in this situation, it would force AT&T into “overpaying...for content that is not popular enough to justify the fees it is demanding.” (AT&T)

AT&T is pushing back against AMC Networks’ complaint with the FCC alleging the communications giant is abusing its MVPD market power to discriminate against programmers.

Earlier this month, AMC accused AT&T of “attempting to stifle AMC’s ability to compete fairly by using its colossal market power as a vertically integrated MVPD to disadvantage AMCN’s linear networks” including AMC and the new streaming bundle AMC+. The programmer said AT&T is favoring its own affiliated networks including HBO and TNT.

AMC Networks asked the FCC to order AT&T to carry AMC and AMC+ (along with AMC’s other programming networks) on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory rates, terms and conditions, and to make AT&T pay a fine to the FCC for violating program carriage rules.

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RELATED: AMC Networks accuses AT&T of abusing MVPD market power

AMC accused AT&T of present carriage terms that are “extremely atypical in the marketplace.”

AT&T said that if the FCC granted relief to AMC Networks in this situation, it would force AT&T into “overpaying…for content that is not popular enough to justify the fees it is demanding,” likely referring to AMC Networks' other channels including IFC, We TV, BBC America and SundanceTV. The operator added that “preventing AT&T from adjusting rates and other provisions in such a rapidly changing programming and distribution environment would result in a windfall for AMCN, while placing AT&T at a competitive disadvantage in the MVPD marketplace.”

AT&T argued that AMC Networks can’t claim its flagship AMC is similar to HBO and TNT by citing that HBO has more Emmy wins and nominations than AMC in 2019 and 2020 and that TNT has “highly desirable sports programming.”

AMC Networks responded to AT&T's filing and said that WE tv is the #1 cable destination for Black viewers on Thursday and Friday nights, and that in the recent Emmy nominations AMC Networks received twice as many Outstanding Drama nominations as HBO.

“We hope to continue our long and successful partnership with AT&T for years to come. As an independent programmer, we are simply asking AT&T to not use their size and scope to competitively disadvantage our business and our programming, and to treat our networks fairly and in the same manner they treat their own services and networks like HBO Max, HBO, CNN, TNT, TBS and TruTV," said AMC Networks in a statement.

The operator also pushed back at the suggestion that AMC+, the programmer’s new streaming service bundle, is similar to HBO.

“HBO launched in 1972, has established itself as the premier premium channel, is available on every major MVPD except for DISH, and offers a popular array of original content,” wrote AT&T in a filing. “AMC+, by contrast, launched two months ago! It is only available on DISH (satellite and Sling TV) and Comcast, and offers content already available through other AMCN products.”