walking deadAMC Networks has taken the all familiar content licensing fees dispute to a new level. The provider of popular programming series like ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Breaking Bad,’ and ‘Mad Men’ is ramping up content renewal agreements with the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), and  implementing a rather aggressive negotiation tactic. NCTC negotiates programming contracts on behalf of hundreds of smaller independent pay-TV providers.

The programmer has begun running ‘rolling ads’ during popular programming, warning subscribers they may lose access to the channel, apparently encouraging them to look for alternative providers. In it of itself, this is not an unusual tactic for programmers during these high profile disputes. But what makes this aggressive is that the NCTC agreement runs through December 31, 2015. Usually these tactics begin when negotiations are at a stalemate and there is an imminent threat of the programmer pulling their signal from a pay-TV provider. In this scenario, there is a solid six weeks left on the current agreement.

NCTC member MCTV, an Ohio based independent cable TV provider, released a statement highlighting this AMC renewal negotiation tactic.   

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“AMC is actively trying to incite panic among our local viewers; trying to scare them into believing that they are at risk of losing their favorite shows,” said MCTV President Bob Gessner in a press release. “But what AMC failed to convey is the real story behind the crawls they ran in The Walking Dead last Sunday. Our customers are NOT at risk of losing AMC or WEtv prior to the December 31 deadline because AMC Networks must contractually provide the signals through this date.”

MCTV is not alone in expressing their views regarding these AMC renewal negotiations. Fellow NCTC member and Arkansas based provider Ritter Communications took to Twitter to highlight the dispute.

ritter tweet

AMC Renewal
The ‘potential’ AMC renewal dispute revolves around familiar points. AMC wants to extract additional fees for its programming from NCTC members, as well as tie some of their other channels to any AMC Network carriage agreement. AMC Networks includes BBC AMERICA, IFC, SundanceTV, and WE tv, among others.

NCTC and its members obviously want to minimize the rate increase, and pay-TV providers don’t like being forced to carry less popular channels (and the programming fees they cost) in order to carry a more popular channel. Hence, the potential for an impasse on these issues.

By getting ahead of a potential dispute, AMC has raised the ante yet again in these often ugly programming renewal agreement negotiations.

“While we are committed to continuing to negotiate with NCTC, we are informing our loyal viewers who are NCTC customers that they are at risk of losing access to their favorite AMC shows,” says AMC in a statement to Multichannel News.

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7 thoughts on “AMC Renewal: Network Ups Ante on Programming Carriage Negotiations, Targets NCTC Members

    1. They can watch them online IF they can verify a cable or satellite subscription. A tactic I don't agree with, but I would just rather (and it is more profitable) just provide the big fat data pipe so that they can watch those programs online and leave the contracts and high prices to Dish or DirecTV.

  1. Classic example of why we dropped ALL satellite programming several years ago and are now only an ISP. Smartest decision we have ever made. Blackmail and extortion are what this all boils down to and we decided not play that game any more.

    1. Blackmail? Extortion? I don't blame these networks. Blame consumers who continue to pay their cable bill without fail every month, regardless of how much it goes up. Networks are just maximizing their take. That's nothing but capitalism at its best. Whatever the market will bear. When consumers decide they don't want it, the networks will change their behavior. Until then, oh well.

      1. Not allowing your system to carry even ONE channel that people really do want to watch unless you carry up to a dozen other channels that they could not care less about is extortion in my opinion. Also requiring your system to carry certain channels only if you put them on certain channel positions qualifies as either of those. Charging double or triple the normal rate only because you have less subscribers than Cox or Comcast I would consider extortion. It costs the programmer no more to provide signal to a small system than it does Cox, the receivers cost exactly the same whether you are providing service to 50 customers or 10,000,000, so the rate should be the same. Charging minimum fees on a per year basis because you have less than some arbitrary number of subscribers instead of your regular monthly rates is another form of extortion which refers back to the rate extortion above. There are all sorts of ways the programmers are being bad actors, some of the things they are doing are why the NCTC was formed in the first place. Now they are trying to go around the NCTC or dropping out of the co-op altogether. We had enough, we did something and stopped offering video.

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