Earlier this week, AMC Networks filed a carriage complaint against AT&T with the FCC. The complaint says that AT&T is showing favoritism to the networks it owns, eliminating a fair playing field for other networks, including AMC channels.
“We have had a long and successful relationship with AT&T and we hope to continue our strong partnership well into the future. We are only asking AT&T to treat our networks fairly and not competitively disadvantage our programming and business interests as compared to the manner in which they treat their own networks like HBO and TNT,” AMC said in a statement.
AMC claims that AT&T wants to cut back on how much it pays to carry AMC networks while paying more for AT&T owned networks including HBO and TNT. According to the complaint, AT&T also wants AMC content to be available on cable rather than making it available online or on OTT services.
AMC pointed to questioning from an antitrust panel before the AT&T and Time Warner merger, when AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson pledged to offer fair distribution. The network says the company is now going against that promise by shutting out smaller programmers.
“Now, however, AT&T is attempting to do exactly that. It is attempting to cause severe harm to the smaller independent network AMC, which offers a fresh, independent and diverse voice on MVPDs’ channel lineups that is highly valued by subscribers, for the benefit of AT&T’s competing and similarly situated network TNT and HBO,” the complaint says.
AT&T responded that the complaint was “without merit.”
“We treat all programmers fairly and will continue to work with AMC Networks to provide its content at a price that is reasonable to our customers,” AT&T wrote in a statement. “The cost to provide AMC Networks’ programming to our customers should reflect that AMC Networks’ shows have been declining in popularity as compared to their peers for several years.”
While much of the complaint was redacted before being made available to the public, we can see that AMC is asking the FCC to step in “to address AT&T’s discriminatory and anticompetitive use of the disproportionate bargaining power that it now has as a result of the AT&T-Time Warner merger to unlawfully disadvantage a programming competitor.”
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