Cable Operators

Dish to Replace AMC Networks on Saturday Night

6/29/2012 10:51 AM Eastern

There will be no 11th hour reconciliation in the contract contretemps between Dish Network and AMC Networks.The No. 2 DBS provider proclaimed the new channel positions for the services that will replace AMC, IFC and WeTV come late Saturday night.

Dish will slide HDNet Movies into AMC's channel 130 slot, while Style will be found at channel 128, where WeTV currently resides. HDNet, which next week is expected to morph into entertainment and music channel AXS.TV, a joint venture of Mark Cuban, AEG, Ryan Seacrest Media and Creative Artists Agency, will run on Channel 131. IFC is currently positioned at channel 393.

The AMC services had been part of Dish America's Top 200 level of service or better.

Earlier this month, Dish, which had notified AMC Networks in May that it would not renew its contract due to what it says are the channels' high costs compared to relatively low viewership levels, had shifted the three networks to much lower channel positions -- in the 9000 neighborhood -- and dropped Sundance Channel.

"HDNet Movies and HDNet are exciting offerings for our customers," said Dave Shull, senior vice president of programming for Dish in a statement. "These are networks that will bring great entertainment, including first-run, commercial-free movies in high definition to our customers. Dish is the only pay-TV provider that did not raise its core package prices in 2012. We will continue to fight hard for choice, control, and value in home entertainment.

"A significant portion of any pay-TV bill goes to fees for content providers like AMC Networks," Shull continued. "AMC Networks requires us to carry low-rated channels like IFC and WE to access a few popular AMC shows. The math is simple: it's not a good value for our customers."

On Friday morning, the programmer declined to comment about the impending Dish move, pointing to its June 28 statement that the DBS provider had "threatened to drop AMC Networks in retaliation for an unrelated lawsuit between the companies." That was a reference to the ongoing legal battle over defunct programming network Voom HD, in which Dish was found to have acted in bad faith in terminating its deal to carry the channels.

Meanwhile, AMC continues to negotiate with AT&T U-verse ahead of the expiration of the parties' contract at 11;59 p.m. (ET) on June 30 for carriage of AMC, IFC and WeTV. The telco said the programmer is seeking an "excessive rate increase."

For its part, AMC Networks rejoined with the following statement yesterday: "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."

September