Advanced Television

No ‘Mad Men’ for Dish subscribers

May 8, 2012

By Chris Forrester

Dish Network viewers will soon not be receiving AMC’s Mad Men top-rated series because of a heavyweight war of words between Dish and AMC’s owners over a long-standing grievance. Mad Men is produced by AMC, and AMC Networks also carries other high-profile shows such as The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad.

The problems go back to a decision made by EchoStar in 2008 to curtail an affiliation/carriage agreement it had in place with Cablevision’s then Rainbow Media/VOOM HD subsidiary. VOOM provided a portfolio of HD channels to EchoStar/Dish. Cablevision owns AMC (and Sundance, IFC and the WEtv channels). All will go dark as far as Dish Network subscribers are concerned. EchoStar in 2008 had an agreement in place to spend $100 million a year with VOOM HD, but said the channels were “lacklustre”. VOOM started its litigation against EchoStar in 2008, demanding damages for improper termination of the agreement.

Dish Network has told AMC Networks that it will be dropping all of the AMC channels at the end of June, but insists its decision has nothing to do with the ongoing litigation.

A judge in the New York Supreme Court has already rapped EchoStar/Dish Network’s knuckles over findings that the satellite broadcaster had destroyed evidence. On April 26 at the New York State Supreme Court, the earlier decision was again upheld. The EchoStar/VOOM case will now proceed to a full trial.

“Within days of the denial of Dish’s final avenue of pre-trial appeal, Dish informed AMC Networks of its intention to drop its award-winning networks,” said AMC. “AMC Networks has some of the most acclaimed programming on television, with shows like Mad Men, The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. In fact, AMC’s The Walking Dead is the number one scripted drama with Dish subscribers,” said an AMC statement. “It is unfortunate that, because of setbacks in an unrelated litigation, Dish even suggests that they might deny their customers access to some of their favourite networks and shows that are offered by every other major satellite and cable TV provider.”

Dish’s statement said: “Dish’s contract with AMC Networks was nearing its end, and we decided not to renew at the end of June. Our decision to drop AMC Networks’ channels is solely dependent on their high renewal cost when compared to their low viewership. Dish will make alternative high-value channels available to our customers as replacements.”

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