Dish Fires Back at AMC for Negative Ads, Bumps Network to Channel 9609

8:59 PM PST 06/04/2012 by Paul Bond
Jordin Althaus/AMC

The network enlists "Mad Men" in its battle over carriage fees with the satellite provider.

Carriage negotiations between AMC Networks and Dish Network heated up over the weekend, culminating with the latter banishing the former to the nether regions of the dial.

On Sunday’s episode of Mad Men, AMC ran commercials warning Dish subscribers that they’d be losing the programming by month’s end, and similar ads are expected during The Killing and other popular AMC shows.

Dish responded early Monday by moving AMC from channel 130, in the neighborhood of high-profile entertainment networks, to channel 9609, where infomercials and similar low-quality programming reside. AMC’s sister networks IFC and We TV also were moved to the 9000s, and its Sundance Channel was dropped by Dish on May 20.

Dish spokesman Bob Toevs acknowledged the decision to move AMC’s networks to less-attractive channels was a response to the commercials that aired Sunday on Mad Men.

“We regret that AMC decided to involve viewers in that particular way,” he said.

While Dish has said it already decided to drop AMC at the end of June rather than pay higher carriage fees, Toevs said that negotiations continue, adding that the fee increases AMC asks for are “too high relative to the low viewership.”

“Dish has that reputation of being very cost-conscious on behalf of the customer,” he said.

AMC’s most popular show, The Walking Dead, attracts about 7 million viewers per episode, while Mad Men, The Killing and Breaking Bad average from 1.9 million to 2.3 million per episode.

While terms of the existing deal are not public, some analysts speculate that Dish pays AMC about 50 cents for each of its 14 million subscribers, so losing the satellite broadcaster could cost AMC $7 million a month. AMC stock has sunk 15 percent since Dish said May 4 it would drop the channels at the end of June.

Beyond the commercials that target Dish customers, AMC is also waging its campaign online at www.keepamcnetworks.com, where subscribers are encouraged to e-mail or phone Dish and express their displeasure at the prospect they’ll lose access to AMC, IFC and We TV.

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