If you get your cable through AT&T’s U-verse, you should be aware that AT&T is threatening to pull the plug on AMC, We and IFC on Wednesday, July 14. That could mean you’d be left watching a blank screen when “Mad Men” – recently nominated for 17 Emmys – starts its fourth season July 25.
Rainbow Media owns all three channels, and while We would be no great loss (sorry, bridezillas), IFC is an underwatched gem and AMC is the home of the two best dramas on TV. The dispute is over the fees AT&T pays to carry the networks; they’re a package deal, and while AMC’s fees are comparable to A&E and Lifetime, AT&T says We and IFC are among the two most “least-watched and most overpriced” cable channels. Rainbow says they’re negotiating in good faith, but AT&T “is acting in an aggressive manner that puts their corporate interests ahead of their customers.” (Well duh.)
These types of cable disputes crop up all the time (Time Warner cable threatened to pull the plug on Fox right before the big college bowl games last December) and usually get resolved just in the nick of time. Still, the contempt with which cable companies treat their subscribers, and their willingness to hold popular shows hostage never fails to be appalling. And anyone who buys AT&T’s claim that they’re just trying to look out for their customers is a sap (it’s not like your cable bill would drop if they got Rainbow’s channels at a cheaper price).
In effect, AT&T (and every other cable company) doesn’t want to play by the rules they impose on their own customers. They don’t want to pay for channels that no one watches, yet they force customers to pay for channels that they never watch. A la carte programming should go both ways, no?
Of course, Rainbow isn’t entirely entirely blameless either, trying to get We and IFC to ride AMC’s coattails. It’s just another case of two corporations trying to milk out every dime they can from each other, while you, the lowly customer, is stuck in the middle.
But of the two, I declare AT&T the bigger jerks, by far. Here’s a site Rainbow Media set up to complain to AT&T: IWantMyTVChannels.com.