If you're a Dish customer who enjoys shows like "Mad Men" or "Breaking Bad" on AMC, you might want to take note: Dish Network says it will drop AMC, as well as the AMC-owned International Film Channel, The Sundance Channel, and WE tv, all following a feud with AMC Networks.
What that dispute is actually about is the subject of controversy right now, and each party says different things. Dish says that its contract with AMC is about to expire, and that the renewal fees are too high to make renewing the channels worthwhile. AMC claims that Dish is punishing the company after Dish lost an appeal in a multi-billion dollar court case.
In late January, an appeals court ordered that Echostar (now Dish) couldn't appeal sanctions because it destroyed digital evidence that would have been crucial to prove Voom HD (now AMC)'s case, which alleges that Echostar (Dish) owes Voom (AMC) about $2.5 billion in damages for breaching a channel distribution agreement. The court denied another appeal on April 26th.
"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," says AMC, offering these fighting words:
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 favorite networks and shows that are offered by every other major satellite and cable TV provider.
Dish, however, says there's no connection between the lawsuit and the decision:
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.
There's no knowing if either company is telling the whole truth, or if the channels will actually be dropped. When it comes to high-stakes TV renewal negotiations like these, parties often engage in a public game of chicken, and do their best to publicize their positions in the news. Should Dish and AMC come back to the negotiating table, there might be no lapse in programming, but nothing's for sure right now.