This Is Getting Old Fast: Latest Distributor and Programmer NOT To Agree: Scripps and U-Verse; Bye-Bye Bobby Flay, at Least for Now, for AT&T’s 3 Million Subs

Nov 5, 2010  •  Post A Comment

AT&T U-Verse has dropped the Scripps Networks Interactive channels from its service after the two companies failed to come to terms on carriage rates, B&C reports.

HGTV, Food Network, DIY Network, Cooking Channel and Great American Country are the channels that went black Friday morning when a financial agreement was not reached. AT&T claimed that Scripps wanted twice as much as it gets from other distributors.

"Scripps Networks also wants [a] premium price for inferior access to their content for our customers on other platforms, even though other competitors get this at much lower prices,” AT&T said, according to the story. “With such an uneven playing field, they are harming AT&T’s ability to provide customers with a new video choice."

In a statement, John Lansing, president of Scripps Networks, said, "AT&T U-verse demanded unreasonably broad video rights for emerging media where business models have not even been established. Accepting their demands would have restrained our ability to deliver our content to our viewers in new and innovative ways."


  1. Below is a form letter you can send senior management at AT&T. Here are their e-mail addresses: randall.stephenson@att.com ; James.Callaway@att.com ; Forrest.Miller@att.com ; Ralph.delaVega@att.com ; John.Stankey@att.com
    [Form letter starts here}
    Well, we’re not on a contract with your company’s U-verse service and you just took away the shows we only had your sevice for in the first place, so we’re now looking elsewhere with thousands and likely hundreds of thousands of other U-verse subscribers. This will go down in business history as a colossal error in judgment that MBAs will be studying about for years about a company who thought its delivery system was far more important than the content it served up. (Think: “Is a paperboy more important than the newspaper he delivers?”)
    I’ve already read what the issue is about and the Food Network President summarized it succinctly. While he didn’t say it outright, it’s effectively a shakedown by your company that is going to cause your company and its stockholders great financial harm, regardless of how your company has tried to spin it. I see a shakeup coming in senior management, employment contracts or not.
    After looking around the web, it appears that there are hundreds of thousands of other U-verse subscribers who feel the same way. The value associated with the multiplier your industry applies to each subscriber is going to cost your company a considerable amount of money, at the very least. I’ve even seen attorneys willing to represent U-verse customers who wish to break their contracts with AT&T based on bad faith representations by your company.
    Somebody at your company has not sufficiently thought this through. The first rule of negotiations is to not make strong demands you might have to give in to later, especially in such a public way. When you do give in, and you’ll ultimately have to, it won’t just be embarassing for senior management, it will shed greater light on the fact that content is king, not the delivery system. This attemptted shakedown of content providers has only served to demonstrate the lack of clout your company has in these kinds of negotiations, and will undermine similar negotiations by your company with other content providers in the future. If you don’t give in, and soon, it will cost your company quite a bit. Your competition was waning, but this issue has them highly motivated. Competitor sites are springing up to exploit this situation with better offers (thanks by the way!) and comments in the blogosphere are going viral comparing AT&T with “Big Oil” and other industries with a tainted image.
    Nice Job ; )
    [Form letter ends here]

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