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Rainbow, AT&T U-verse Ink New Carriage Accord

After a fair amount of public posturing, AT&T and Rainbow Media Holdings have hammered out a new carriage accord.
The deal, terms of which were not disclosed, covers renewals for AMC, IFC and We TV, whose contracts were originally set to expire on July 1, before the parties extended the negotiating period through July 14. The telco and the programmer continued their discussions through last night and for most of today before coming to an accord, which also includes Sundance Channel, around 7 p.m. (ET). There was never any disruption in service for the networks.
The agreement, which does not encompass Rainbow's other service, We spinoff Wedding Central, averts the possibility of AT&T U-verse's 2.3 million customers missing the fourth season of AMC's top show, two-time Emmy drama winner Mad Men, which bows July 25.
"We're pleased to have reached an agreement with AT&T for AMC, WE tv, IFC and Sundance Channel that truly recognizes the value of our networks," said Rainbow in a statement. "We look forward to continuing our partnership with AT&T and are excited to continue to bring their subscribers our award-winning programming, including the new season of AMC's Mad Men on Sunday, July 25."

The telco issued its own statement Thursday evening: "We are happy to report that AMC, IFC and WE tv will remain on AT&T U-verse TV. We're very satisfied that we were able to reach the fair deal we wanted for our customers -- one that includes the right content, across platforms, at prices that are in line with the marketplace, and that helps us with important strategic content initiatives. We are very grateful to our customers for their support."

AT&T threatened to pull Rainbow services AMC, WE TV and IFC if a carriage deal wasn't completed by July 14. On July 9, the distributor began informing its subscribers about the potential move through a set-top box message.

The discord stemmed over rates, which neither side would specify. However, AT&T, in a statement made on July 14, said Rainbow was looking to "charge significantly more than the average of what our TV competitors pay for these channels."

SNL Kagan Associates estimates AMC's monthly license fee at 25 cents per subscriber, IFC's at 20 cents, We's at 12 cents and Sundance's at 29 cents.

With the accord, Rainbow officials pointed out that its services have never been disconnected during a negotiating process.

The programmer, along with regional sports networks MSG and MSG Plus, reached a multiyear pact with DirecTV on New Year's Eve, hours before its contract with the top DBS player was set to expire.

Cablevision spun off MSG into its own business unit on Feb. 9. National music network Fuse, which had been a Rainbow service, is now part of MSG.