Hallmark, AT&T Back In Negotiations

Hallmark and AT&T's U-verse multichannel video service are
back at the negotiating table in their carriage impasse, according to a
Hallmark source. The sticking point appears to be a simple one: Hallmark wants
more than AT&T is willing to pay.

Hallmark, which is regularly ranked among the top cable nets, has
been pushing for several years for sub fees it believes better reflect that
success than the 4 cents-per-sub it was commanding even as it began regularly cracking
the top 10.

There had been a standstill in talks since last Thursday, but they
were talking again Tuesday as the deadline loomed.

AT&T's contract expires at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday morning (Sept.
1), though Hallmark has indicated its willingness to allow the signal to
continue to be delivered past that deadline if the two sides have not reached
an agreement. AT&T would not comment on whether it would agree to keep the
channel on as well.

Hallmark has been encouraging viewers to weigh in at AT&T's
Facebook page
which they have been doing in apparently large numbers, with each posting
getting a response from AT&T.

"Hallmark Channels programs are filled with hope, love, and
good values. It is disappointing that you all are considering getting rid of
these great qualities just to save cold money," read one post (spelling
cleaned up).

"This isn't about us wanting to get rid of the programming
you love, it's about Hallmark making unreasonable demands and working out a
fair deal with so we can continue providing you the channels you enjoy
most," said AT&T in response.

"Wow, I am impressed that AT&T has answered each one of
these concerns directly and individually. Hope Hallmark gets the message that
they need to be a part of the negotiations too!" said another.

sides have apparently gotten the message, but there was no word at press time on
the progress of the new talks.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.