AMC Networks, AT&T Jockey for Position as Carriage Deal Deadline Nears

 Gene Page/AMC

Cable channel group AMC Networks and AT&T's U-verse pay TV service are engaging in a war of words as the expiration of a carriage deal this weekend nears.

As always in carriage fee disputes, the issue is the price a TV distributor should pay for the networks. The current carriage deal expires at 11:59pm ET on Saturday - just when Dish Networks is expected to drop carriage of the AMC Networks channels.

“We are disappointed that, just days before the July 15 season premiere of AMC’s Breaking Bad, we have not yet reached an agreement with AT&T that adequately reflects the popularity of our programming and AMC’s position as a top tier network with acclaimed shows like The Walking Dead, basic cable’s highest-rated scripted drama series," AMC Networks said in a statement Thursday. 

The company, whose networks include AMC, IFC and WE tv, added that it was  "proud that our investment in original programming has provided so much value to all of our distribution partners. We hope AT&T will recognize this and quickly reach a fair agreement with us, so their viewers don't lose out."
 
AT&T had said late Wednesday: "We’ve been in ongoing negotiations to renew this agreement, but AMC Networks is seeking an excessive rate increase in our overall fees for the right to deliver these channels. AMC Networks is asking that AT&T pay nearly double what we believe other competitors pay - including a smaller-sized competitor."

It added: "We don’t think that’s reasonable, especially in these economic times, and we will continue to work toward a fair deal."
 
Separately, satellite TV giant Dish is expected to drop all AMC Networks channels on Saturday. Sources said there have not been any carriage fee negotiations between Dish and AMC.

Dish has argued that the channel company's networks aren't a big draw in its homes. AMC has said that Dish is using the carriage issue as leverage in the Voom lawsuit between the two companies.

One source said an AT&T-AMC deal is much more likely as both companies have been in touch and left the door open for an eventual agreement.

AMC Networks shares closed down 1.5 percent for the day.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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