Carriage Wars: AMC's Hot New
(July 2, 2012)
-- You can't find it on AMC's programming schedule, but a new
soap opera has emerged that has become the network's best drama,
complete with villains, heroes, colorful characters and hidden agendas.
And it's a soap opera that could jeopardize the network's
Over the weekend, Dish Network did as threatened and pulled AMC
and its two sister networks, WE TV and IFC, off the air. The
satcaster claims AMC Networks, which owns all three channels, is
asking for an "outrageous" increase to keep carrying them.
AMC, however, says Dish never even tried to negotiate rates and
is simply trying to use the carriage dispute as leverage in its
legal battle against Voom Networks, which is indirectly owned by
(Voom is suing Dish for dropping
its channels in 2008 and a recent court decision all-but ensured
a trial commencing later this year. Dish denies the Voom lawsuit
has anything to do with its dispute with AMC.)
Considering that Dish is run by Charlie Ergen, a man who has
never met a lawsuit he didn't like, a man who was once banned
from Las Vegas casinos for counting cards, it says here that AMC
is probably right. It's typical of the wheelin/dealin' Ergen to
use a side issue to wreak havoc in another dispute. Just ask the
broadcast networks who are suing Dish over the satcaster's new
Auto Hop ad-zapper, a feature Dish just happened to launch after
the networks said they would likely ask for more money to carry
Ergen's thinly veiled message to the networks: Go ahead, ask for
more money; I'll cut you to the bone by zapping your
You see, folks, Charlie Ergen would make a great character in
AMC's Mad Men. Despite a reputation for bluntness and honesty,
what he says is rarely what he means. With Charlie, you follow
the money, not the verbiage.
So my guess is that the AMC/Dish soap opera will serve as a
backdrop in the Voom trial and won't be settled until that case
is put to bed. Ergen obviously thinks it will help his cause in
the Voom dispute.
This does not bode well for AMC, which will likely lose Dish's
14 million subscribers for a lengthy period of time. The
company's stock dipped five percent on Friday and advertisers
must be getting restless about the possibility of losing almost
15 percent of the U.S. TV audience for several weeks or months.
Now in contrast, AT&T's U-Verse networks last week also
threatened to drop the AMC networks, claiming it was asking for,
yes, "an outrageous increase." But lo and behold, the telco
announced last night that it had reached an agreement with AMC
at the 11nth hour, which means AT&T's four million viewers will
be able to watch the new season of Breaking Bad (debuting July
15) as well as endless repeats of the aforementioned Mad Men.
But the Dish/AMC soap opera lives on and who knows what plot
twists we might see next.
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