AMC Networks and National Cable Television Cooperative are still trying to work out a new carriage contract — despite the group’s warning this week to 4 million subscribers at the 740 small and medium cable companies it represents that they stood to lose the channels last night.
Neither side is commenting yet, even to say whether any NCTC system dropped AMC with the year-end expiration of their 2010 deal. One company, Alaska’s General Communications Inc., had said that it planned to do so in response to the size of the price increase AMC wants.
The carriers suffered from sticker shock as AMC positions itself as much more valuable than it was in 2010. Following a string of hits including Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and Better Call Saul it’s said to be looking for a price increase of at least 150%, although operators also would gain streaming and VOD rights.
In addition to seeking increases for each channel, AMC also wanted NCTC members to agree to carry its entire fleet of networks — including IFC, Sundance TV, WEtv and BBC America — for as much as eight years.
Earlier this week NCTC CEO Rich Fickle said a deal by New Year’s Day was “unlikely” because “our portion of the industry can’t sustain this type of model” with AMC’s “extreme conditions.”
AMC said that it has “long supported smaller cable operators” and would “do everything we can to make them successful.”
Outside of the AMC-NCTC dispute, there were few fireworks with the year-end expiration of several carriage contracts between programmers and pay TV distributors.
Dish Network subscribers in Rapid City, SD lost their local NBC affiliate, KNBN, in a contract impasse. A few weeks ago the satellite company lost the Lansing, MI. ABC affiliate, WLAJ.
That was enough to alarm the American Television Alliance — a pay TV industry-backed group lobbying for changes in rules governing retransmission consent negotiations. It counted 191 blackouts affecting 12 million homes in 2015, which it calls a new record. There were 94 in 2014, and 119 in 2013, it says.
“As the FCC continues its congressionally mandated probe into abusive conduct that harms consumers, these broadcasters have brazenly and deliberately hijacked pay TV viewers once again and are holding their programming for ransom,” says national spokesman Trent Duffy.