Dispute continues between DISH and AMC

File photo.
File photo.

A 3-month-old carriage dispute between DISH Network and AMC continues to escalate as the season premiere of “The Walking Dead” and a trial date loom ahead.

More than 14 million customers of cable provider DISH Network saw their AMC-owned channels switch to the little-known movie channel HDNet on July 1.  The most prominent loss to DISH customers was the cable channel AMC, home to the acclaimed and popular shows “The Walking Dead” and “Mad Men.”

The dispute traces back to a lawsuit filed in 2008 by AMC over Dish dropping the now-defunct
VOOM HD channel.  Delayed for years, DISH threatened to drop AMC after losing an appeal in April.

The lawsuit is scheduled to head to trial on Sept. 19.

In a statement released to the public, AMC argues that the lawsuit is the reason for the dispute. In contrast, DISH Network CEO Joe Clayton has publicly stated that the AMC-owned channels were
dropped due to low ratings among its subscribers.  DISH has also spoken against the use of bundling,
which is the practice of networks, such as AMC, to package several channels together for a favorable
price.

As the dispute plays out, millions of fans wonder how they’ll be able to watch Rick Grimes and
company fight zombies once “The Walking Dead” returns on Oct. 14.  The most-watched cable series on
television with an average of 6.9 million viewers, “The Walking Dead” is one of several major successes
for AMC.  Other shows on AMC include “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad,” both of which have multiple
Emmy awards and mass critical acclaim.

To prove its success and worth, AMC has turned to social media to fight against DISH Network.
Over the last month, AMC has led a video contest titled “Hey DISH, Where’s My AMC?” that has seen
more than 200 submissions.  The header on the Facebook pages for AMC and its shows highlights an
application to find a new TV provider.  Each link that AMC provides on its page features the line “not
available on DISH.”

AMC has also expanded its anti-DISH campaign to commercials and promotions for its shows
and film events, ending each advertisement with a graphic and narration.  An example of an
advertisement reads, “Breaking Bad.  Available on AMC, not available on DISH.”

The ongoing carriage dispute between DISH and AMC is not the first time a network has fought
with a cable provider.  In 2009, Fox and Time Warner Cable worked into the early hours of New Year’s
Day to end a dispute over high subscription fees, preventing customers from losing one of the four
major television networks.  Earlier this summer, DirectTV users briefly experienced a blackout of the 17
channels owned by Viacom, including Comedy Central, Nickoledeon and MTV.  The dispute between
DISH and AMC is considered one of the longest in history.

DISH Network’s dispute with AMC isn’t the only issue they’re currently facing.  In a press release,
CBS head Leslie Moonves threatened to pull CBS from DISH because of the Hopper digital video
recorder.  The Hopper features a new Auto-Hop technology that allows users to skip over
advertisements by hiding commercials.  Commercial advertising is the main source of revenue for
networks like CBS.  A hearing is set for Sept. 21 to request the removal of the Auto-Hop
technology.

Despite controversy and AMC’s persistence, DISH Network has not seen many losses because of the dispute.

This article draws information from The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, and NPR.

About the Author

Nick Keeley

Nick Keeley is a Chimes staff writer for the 2012-13 school year.

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