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Dish Replacing AMC With HDNet Movies

29 Jun, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Move underscores satellite TV operator’s ongoing aggressive stance toward media companies

Dish Network June 29 said it is replacing three AMC Networks channels — IFC, WE and AMC — beginning June 30 at 11:59 ET with HDNet Movies, Style and HDNet.

AMC is home to serials “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “Kendra on Top” and “The Walking Dead,” among others.

The move marks another turn in Dish’s contentious relationship with AMC Networks over programming costs, carriage fees and the rise in subscription video-on-demand services like Netflix and Hulu Plus.

Dish, with 14 million subscribers, is the third-largest pay-TV channel operator in the country behind Comcast and Time Warner Cable. In its marketing, Dish says it is the only multichannel video programming distributor to not raise its rates to subscribers in 2012.

Dish earlier this year said it would drop AMC if the network didn’t reverse what it characterized as an “excessive rate increase” going forward. AMC responded by airing TV spots targeting Dish subscribers directly warning they were about to lose the programming.

“A significant portion of any pay-TV bill goes to fees for content providers like AMC Networks,” said Dave Shull, SVP of programming at Dish. “AMC Networks requires us to carry low-rated channels like IFC and WE to access a few popular AMC shows. The math is simple: it's not a good value for our customers.”

The satellite TV operator’s populist strategy is also evident in the rollout and litigation involving its Hopper DVR, which includes technology allowing users to automatically skip advertising on recorded primetime programming.

Shull echoed previous statements made by Dish chairman Charlie Ergen who said media companies devalue their content to pay-TV operators by licensing them to $7.99 a month SVOD services.

Shull said Dish movie offerings, which include thousands of titles available on Blockbuster @Home and HBO, Showtime, Starz, EPIX, MGM HD, IndiePlex, and RetroPlex, trump AMC.

“HDNet Movies and HDNet [which will soon become AXS.tv] are exciting offerings for our customers,” he said.

An AMC representative was not immediately available for comment.

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