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Small Cable Operators Call AMC Tactics Unfair

The American Cable Association and the National Cable Television Cooperative, which represent small cable operators, have complained to the FCC that AMC Networks is trying to force them to pay for unwanted programming and AMC’s networks could be dropped in more than a million homes as a result.

“NCTC members serving more than a million subscribers are poised not to renew their deal with AMCN, and each day more NCTC members are considering discontinuing carriage," the letter to the FCC from ACA president Matt Polka says. “A comparable exodus took place following last year’s Viacom negotiation, even after NCTC successfully negotiated a contract renewal."

The cable operators say AMCN is insisting on forced bundling, which would require operators to carry AMCN’s low-rated networks in order to secure carriage of AMC, which carries The Walking Dead and other popular programming. AMCN also wants those channels on operators most widely distributed tiers, the operators say.

AMCN is also seeing twice the rate it charges other cable operators and wants that rate applied to all subscribers, whether they get those channels or not.

“This demand seems designed to protect AMCN from losses due to cord shaving, and when combined with AMCN’s demands to carry unwanted programming, it hinders smaller operators ability to serve customers that want a low-priced ‘skinny’ package of programming,” the letter says.