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Scott D. Pierce: It's Dish vs. AMC, and the viewers are losing

Published June 22, 2012 3:57 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Barring a last-minute agreement, Dish Network subscribers will wake up on Sunday, July 1, and discover that AMC, IFC, the Sundance Channel and WEtv are no longer part of their channel lineup. Because AMC Networks and the satellite TV provider just can't get along.

Maybe we could call in Dr. Phil to mediate. Or maybe we could just make them sit in the corner and think about what they've done. Because the dispute has become rather childish.

Not that acting like bratty children is anything unusual when it comes to disputes between networks and cable/satellite providers.

The AMC Networks-Dish dispute is pretty much the same ol' story. AMC believes its channels are worth more than Dish is willing to pay.

That happened in 2004 when local Dish subscribers lost not only MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central but also KUTV-Channel 2 because of a conflict with their corporate parent. An agreement was reached two days later.

The 2009-10 battle between DirecTV and Versus (now NBC Sports Network) lasted more than six months, which meant local DirecTV subscribers couldn't see a slew of BYU and Utah football and basketball games.

AMC asserts the current impasse stems from a $2.5 billion lawsuit its former parent company, Cablevision, filed accusing Dish of reneging on a contract to carry a bunch of HD channels. That goes to trial in September, and Dish denies a link.

What's indisputable is that Dish's 14 million subscribers are the ones who will lose out, beginning on July 15 when "Breaking Bad" returns.

AMC is doing what TV channels do — running ads urging viewers to contact Dish and demand it make a deal. (You can go to www.keepamcnetworks.com.)

Dish reacted in a way that's childish even by TV standards. It moved AMC from Channel 130 to Channel 9609; IFC from 131 to 9608; and WE from 128 to 9607 — and a lot of subscribers thought Dish simply dropped all those channels early.

Wow. Dish ticked off its customers to spite AMC? And it's in a service industry?

Dish claims it's trying to keep costs down for its subscribers, which is admirable. But I want to see "The Walking Dead," "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad," so I'd drop Dish ASAP and subscribe to cable or DirecTV.

(Another option — "Breaking Bad" will be on iTunes the day after it airs on AMC — for $2.99 per episode.)

I'm not taking AMC's side, I'm taking the viewers' side. If you subscribe to Dish and you don't care about AMC, IFC, Sundance or WE, you're good.

If you do care about those channels and their shows, let Dish know you're canceling as soon as your contract allows. And then do it.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.




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