MCTV has included AMC and American Movie Classics (its predecessor) for more than 30 years. We value that relationship and are working hard to keep it. We continue our active negotiating with AMC Networks. Unfortunately, AMC has made no meaningful concessions toward fair market terms; basically no movement whatsoever from their original demands. AMC’s actions are discriminatory, demanding far more from MCTV than other providers. And, their demands that we launch five more, unwanted networks may violate anti-trust laws.
We don’t want to be bullied into a bad deal because, ultimately, it’s a bad deal for you. We continue to negotiate with AMC with the primary goal to complete a mutually acceptable agreement. We have given AMC a clear roadmap how to successfully conclude negotiations. AMC has disregarded everything we have offered.
AMC Networks has a track record of using aggressive negotiating tactics like trying to scare customers into believing that they are at risk of losing their favorite shows. They start this process early in the negotiations by, for example, interrupting shows with a crawl along the bottom of the screen or running commercials.
Another aggressive tactic used by AMC Networks is refusing to agree to any extension of carriage, even while active negotiations continue. We have asked AMC for their assurance the signal will remain active as long as we are negotiating. AMC has refused. You are NOT at risk of losing AMC prior to the December 31 deadline because AMC must contractually provide the signals through this date. However, after December 31, AMC Networks may pull the AMC signal from our customers. That’s real hardball on their part.
These tactics translate to unprecedented rate increases. AMC hopes these aggressive and disruptive tactics will put pressure on us to agree to AMC’s demands for excessive rate increases. What AMC fails to mention is that any cost increase is passed on to the consumer. How much is that? Well, their current demand is a more-than four-fold increase in 2016 and even more when AMC's fees increase every year. If AMC were concerned about their viewers’ best interest they would allow flexible carriage and charge a fee that is reasonably associated with the audience they draw.
Our agreement with AMC Networks expires on 12/31/2015. One of three things will happen:
- We reach an agreement before 12/31/2015. If that happens, AMC and WEtv will continue without interruption.
- We do not reach an agreement before 12/31/2015, but continue negotiations. The outcome here is unclear. In most cases like this (and there have been many), the program network grants an extension as long as the negotiations continue. That’s reasonable and in the best interest of the viewers. We have asked AMC Networks for an assurance that the signal will remain active as long as we are talking. AMC Networks has refused to give us that assurance. That’s unreasonable, but AMC Networks has been very aggressive with their tactics so far, especially things that disrupt viewers. Consequently, there is a high probability that AMC Networks will force us the remove AMC and WEtv from the system if an agreement is not reached by midnight on 12/31/2015. That would be regrettable.
- We fail to reach any agreement in the future.
If the AMC signal is lost for any reason, we will substitute Sony Movie Channel for AMC while we continue to negotiate. That way, you will still have a great movie channel to watch. Sony Movie Channel programming includes movies from Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures and Sony Pictures Classics. The movies are unedited and remastered in 1080i high definition. Sony Movie Channel is planned as part of Basic Plus starting in January, but will be moved to Basic Cable if AMC is lost.
Instead of hit movies, you may be interested in Season 6 of AMC’s one hit show, The Walking Dead. The Walking Dead will be on break until February, 2016. If we are unable to reach an agreement before that time, please know that you have plenty of options to watch The Walking Dead online and on your TV. Sources like Apple iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Google Play and AMC’s own website enable smart TV, computers, tablets, game consoles, Roku and many others devices to stream the programs.
A common question is “What will happen to the Basic Cable rate as a result of AMC negotiations?” Well, that depends on the outcome. The rates for 2016 have already been set using AMC’s most recent demands. This is consistent with our goal to continue to carry AMC and WEtv.
- If we reach a mutually acceptable agreement with AMC Networks, the rates will remain as set unless we can achieve some significant movement from AMC. If their demands are lowered, we will reduce the rate accordingly.
- If we cannot reach a new long-term agreement with AMC, we will adjust the rates to reflect the savings that result.
Our goal is to complete a mutually acceptable agreement so we can continue to offer AMC and WEtv. Active negotiations continue, but AMC Networks has thus far been unwilling to consider any compromise. We will keep trying.
Join in the conversation at www.TVOnMySide.com/MCTV where you can also keep up with the latest information on our discussions with AMC Networks.
As background, please know that MCTV negotiates with program networks through the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC). NCTC represents about 800 Cable TV, telephone and municipal systems serving more than 8 million consumers. NCTC has completed successful negotiations with more than 100 networks in the past few years. They have never failed to reach a renewal agreement with any program owner. However, throughout more than 30 years of negotiations, NCTC has never experienced a situation like this, where a program company demands such huge increases and requirements for more networks on Basic Cable, and is unwilling to discuss compromises.
You might be wondering why this AMC negotiation seems so different. Well, it is not for lack of trying or of success with negotiations. It’s because AMC makes it a public fight and because they are making unrealistic demands. Here’s a list of the other networks we are negotiating with right now. All of them expire on 12/31/15. There is no acrimony, no public rancor, no threats of losing favorite shows, no disruptive on-screen messages. Only AMC Networks engages in those practices.
Through NCTC, we have completed renewals with more than 100 other networks in the past few years. AMC Networks’ demands and unwillingness to compromise is baffling, but we will keep trying. We hope AMC Networks will come to their senses, consider our counter-offers, makes some reasonable compromises and let us more forward together to serve consumers and viewers.