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Scripps Networks Exits AT&T’s U-verse

11/08/2010 12:01 AM Eastern

The spat that led to last
Friday’s removal of several Scripps
Networks from AT&T U-verse TV lineups
isn’t about licensing fees in today’s
cable world, but rather about access to
Scripps-based content for tomorrow’s
non-linear distribution platforms.

Scripps and AT&T had reached agreement
on the economic details of a carriage
agreement for Scripps-owned
services Food Network, HGTV, Cooking
Channel, DIY and GAC more than a week
ago, Scripps CEO John Lansing told Multichannel
News
, although he would not provide
specific details.

The holdup has been AT&T’s demands
for full access to Scripps’ content for nonlinear
platform distribution.

“AT&T felt like they deserved to have
all of our video available to them on all
current and future non-linear platforms
— mobile, website, iPads, etc. — and
that’s a broad ask that could damage
our business,” he said. “We’re willing to
work together to try to carve it down to
something that works for both of us.”

Lansing said the network had been offering
AT&T U-verse “day-to-day” extensions
since its deal expired Oct. 31 and
had signed an extension into Friday, but
the telco turned it down.

“They have an extension in writing
from us, so we ask them to reinstate the channels immediately and not put
our audience between the two of us and our negotiations,” he said. “It’s not
fair to our viewers to take them off.”

The channels came off AT&T U-verse at 1 a.m., AT&T said. U-Verse TV has
about 2.7 million customers. AT&T said it was replacing the channels in the
meantime with “a free preview” of TLC, Bravo, Planet Green, ION Life and
CMT Pure Country.

For its part, AT&T has said that it is “extremely disappointed that Scripps
Networks won’t provide a fair deal for AT&T customers.”

“Our team has been working for weeks to reach a fair agreement, but Scripps
Networks ultimately refused to put in writing key terms that had been agreed
upon verbally, leaving our customers without a fair deal as our extended contract
expired,” the telco said.

AT&T added, “Scripps Networks also wants this premium price for inferior
access to their content for our customers on other platforms, even though
other competitors get this at much lower prices. With such an uneven playing
field, they are harming AT&T’s ability to provide customers with a new
video choice. We will continue to fight for a fair deal to bring these channels
back to our lineup because our customers deserve the programming they
want, at a fair price.”

Lansing said Scripps has reached “limited” nonlinear deals with operators,
which include various subscriber authentication models, as well as deals
with online distribution companies like Hulu that reflect the company’s desire
to offer content online to consumers while not doing any damage to existing
business models with cable and satellite providers.

“[AT&T] thinks they deserve any video that they give to any other distributor
on any platform today and anything that we do in the future, even if those
platforms have yet to be developed,” he said. “Everything everywhere is a little
problematic.”

Lansing said Scripps is prepared to continue negotiations “at any moment.”

September