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AMC Plans Appeal of Time Warner Carriage Decision

Jul 12, 2005  •  Post A Comment

AMC said Tuesday it plans to appeal a New York State Supreme Court ruling that Time Warner Cable can drop the channel due to changes to its programming.

AMC, owned by Cablevision’s Rainbow Media unit, sued to prevent Time Warner Cable from renegotiating a contract signed in 1993 and was counter-sued by TWC, which said AMC had breached the contract because it was no longer showing mainly classic films from the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. AMC claimed the changes were permissible in the contract. Judge Bernard Fried rejected AMC’s argument and said damages for Time Warner Cable would have to be determined in a trial.

With newer movies on its schedule, AMC’s ratings have risen, but critics argue it now shows many films available on a wide range of general entertainment channels.

Time Warner Cable is not likely to drop the channel immediately, despite the ruling.

In a statement, Time Warner Cable said it is “gratified the Supreme Court of the State of New York has held American Movie Classics to the contractual commitments it made to us. We are presently evaluating our relationship with the network going forward.”

An AMC spokesman said, “This dispute, one of many over the years between AMC and TW, will not affect the quality of programming that subscribers have come to expect from AMC. Of course we disagree with the judge’s ruling and plan to appeal immediately. We are optimistic that this ruling will be overturned.”

One reason AMC is interested in a successful appeal is to prevent other cable operators from invoking similar content clauses in their contracts to try to renegotiate their deals with the channel.

The court ruling also may make it tougher for other channels looking to revamp their programming or to rebrand without getting specific approval from cable operators.