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AT&T U-verse Customers Could Be Sad Men

AT&T U-verse and Rainbow Media Holdings are nearing an impasse
in carriage negotiations just in time to keep customers from seeing the season premiere
of Mad Men.

Rainbow, the division of Cablevision Systems that runs AMC, WE tv
and IFC, said it has been informed that AT&T intends to drop the networks
if a new distribution agreement is not reached by July 14, when the current
pact expires.

"It is troubling that
AT&T is threatening to yank AMC, WE tv and IFC, and leave their customers
without the hottest show on television, AMC's Mad Men, just before the premiere of the new season," Rainbow said
in a statement. "AT&T is acting in an aggressive manner that puts their
corporate interests ahead of their customers. We are negotiating in good faith
with AT&T and are hopeful that we can reach an agreement as soon as
possible so that our viewers don't lose out."

An AT&T spokesperson
said that some of the Rainbow channels "are among the least-watched
and most overpriced per viewer compared to other major programming providers.
They're also trying to force the renegotiation of a contract for one of their
other channels that is not yet expired and force us to carry a new channel that
wasn't even formally presented to us until after the recent July 1 contract

The U-verse spokesperson
said its contract with Rainbow was originally due to expire on July 1 and that
it agreed to a 14-day extension.

"We're willing to continue to work toward reaching a fair
agreement, but frankly, we seem to be at an impasse with Rainbow so we're
starting to let customers know that Rainbow may force us to remove their
channels from our lineup on July 14," U-verse said.

"If a fair agreement isn't reached by July 14, Rainbow could require
us to remove their programming to try to force us into an unfair deal. This is
about protecting our customers and representing their interests to get the
content they really want at a fair price," U-verse said.

In its statement, Rainbow
went on to tweak AT&T, a telco competitor of its cable operator parent:
 "AT&T customers should demand better service by calling 1-877-9-KEEP
ON or go to"

This is a bit of a case of
the shoe being on the other foot. Earlier this year, Cablevision subscribers
missed the beginning of the Oscars on ABC because of a carriage dispute with
Walt Disney Co.