Western Canada could soon become a dead zone for The Walking Dead. In fact, as a complaint filed in U.S. federal court last week by Canadian telecom Telus reveals, all of AMC could be going dark for the company’s nearly 800,000 subscribers. Telus claims that AMC is playing rough to get better terms for its shows and that in the midst of carriage negotiations, the cable powerplayer breached the companies’ long-established deal by trying to pull the plug with a termination letter dated September 27. The lawsuit says AMC took it up a notch during talks by pledging to run a crawl during Sunday’s record-breaking Season 4 debut of Walking Dead warning Canadian viewers that they wouldn’t be able to see the conclusion of the series unless Telus agreed to a new deal by October 11. While the crawl never happened, this lawsuit in the Southern District of New York has. Although different in the details, this could end up being similar in consequences to the dispute AMC had with Dish Network last year that saw the satcaster boot the broadcaster off its systems for more than four months before a deal was reached.
In its filing, Telus says it saw AMC do this before with another Canadian company, Rogers Communications, and called the tactic a desperate move to compensate for big shows like Breaking Bad ending and Mad Men moving toward wrapping up in the next couple of years. “Seeking to capitalize on what it realizes many be fleeting success, AMC has publicly expressed dissatisfaction with carriage rates AMC receives from its licenses with television distributors, claiming that those rates do not reflect the popularity of the programming,” says the complaint. No real details are given in the redacted complaint as to what AMC said in its termination letter. Telus is represented by Michael Elkin of the NYC offices of Winston & Strawn LLP.