[AUGUST 27, 2010, 06:38 AM, PT: UPDATED with Hallmark’s response to AT&T’s resonse; AUGUST 26, 2010, 12:20 PM, PT: UPDATED with AT&T’s response]
As we approach another month’s end we have the seemingly never ending confrontation between a program distributor–this time AT&T U-verse–threatening to drop a cable programmer.
The cable networks involved are Crown Media Holdings’ Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel, according to a press release put out by the Hallmark channels.
In a press release about the situation Bill Abbott, president and CEO of the Hallmark Channels said, ""Hallmark Channels has been a good partner and supporter of AT&T U-verse since they launched their service, and we have been negotiating in good faith with them. We hope AT&T will recognize the extraordinary value of our channels and renew the carriage agreement. At the present time, however, talks are not progressing and it is looking more likely that Hallmark Channels will be dropped from AT&T. This would be a tremendous loss to viewers who look to Hallmark Channels, America’s most trusted family networks, for programming that connects people emotionally."
For its part, AT&T put out the following statement:
DALLAS, Aug. 26, 2010 — Despite Crown Media’s unreasonable and inflexible demands, AT&T* is working to keep Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel on AT&T U-verse® TV at a fair price for its customers. AT&T’s existing contract with Crown Media expires at 12:01 a.m. EDT Sept. 1. AT&T has provided the following statement to update customers on its programming negotiations with Hallmark:
"We are making every effort to reach a fair agreement and continue providing these channels to our customers. Frankly, we’re surprised that Hallmark has decided to take its negotiations public, instead of working with us in good faith, especially since we’ve made numerous offers to Hallmark. We’re disappointed that Hallmark is acting in a way that may punish viewers and is trying to charge AT&T more than what similarly-sized and smaller TV competitors pay for these channels. We want to continue to carry the channels under terms similar to our current agreement.
"We don’t want customers to lose their programming. We’re fighting for a fair deal because our customers deserve the programming they want, at a fair price. We want to reach an agreement that is fair to our subscribers and for all parties, as we have with numerous other content providers."
After AT&T issued the statement above, Bill Abbott, the CEO of the Hallmark Channels, gave out the following statement: “It is unfortunate that AT&T U-verse’s statement of the situation is inaccurate. They are a multi-billion dollar organization bullying one of the nation’s last surviving independent cable networks by insisting on unreasonable rates that would seriously jeopardize our longevity. Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel are two of the few remaining family-friendly networks offered on television and represent less than 1% of AT&T’s total basic programming fees! Although we would have preferred to conduct the negotiations privately, we have been forced to comment since AT&T advised its customers weeks ago that Hallmark Channels may be dropped on August 31, 2010.”
this statement: "