AMC Networks adroitly alerted its viewers about the possible service interruption for DirecTV’s 20.2M subs during its hit The Walking Dead. Its carriage agreement with DirecTV expires mid-way through the season, it says. Although the programmer adds that it has “great respect” for the No. 1 satellite company’s management, DirecTV “has not engaged in meaningful negotiations with us, which leaves us to doubt whether a timely renewal is possible. In addition, DirecTV is in violation of our current agreement, and it has dropped AMC in Latin America. We hope to finalize a new agreement quickly but in the meantime, we think it is important to alert DirecTV customers who care about The Walking Dead that their ability to watch the show on DirecTV is at risk.”
The satellite company says not to worry: Its customers “will not miss any of this year’s new season of The Walking Dead or any other shows. AMC is contractually obligated to provide all of its programming for several more months and we intend to renew our AMC partnership at a price that’s fair to our customers. ” It adds that it will keep subscribers posted on developments at its website dedicated to programming disputes: DirecTVPromise.com.
The difference between the two statements may hinge on the definition of “season.” The Walking Dead takes a break at the end of November and new episodes resume in February. The current AMC-DirecTV deal expires around year end. That should leave time to reach an agreement before zombie fans have to worry. DirecTV also may not want to be embroiled in a high-profile battle while the Justice Department and FCC consider AT&T’s plan to buy the company.
In 2012 AMC went dark on Dish Network for about three months. The companies locked horns in court over a busted carriage deal involving the defunct VOOM HD networks. But the programmer also battled that year with cable company Suddenlink and, last year, with Cable One.