The Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel disappeared from AT&T U-verse nationwide as of Wednesday, September 1st as the two sides were unable to come to terms on a new carriage agreement. As usual, each side is blaming the other.
“We are very disappointed that Hallmark has refused to provide AT&T and its customers with a fair deal — one that is no worse than similarly-sized and smaller providers — and refused to adhere to key obligations under our current deal. We offered to extend the current deal while talks continued, and Hallmark rejected that offer. Hallmark has forced us into a position where we no longer have the rights to carry the Hallmark channels as of 12:01 EDT. We don’t want customers to lose their programming, but we believe strongly that our customers should not have to pay more than their fair share for Hallmark’s channels, which is exactly what Hallmark is demanding,” said a statement from AT&T.
“I was stunned by the apparent disregard for the facts in AT&T’s recent statement regarding our negotiations. However, if they are really serious, my team and I are ready for truly fair negotiations,” said Bill Abbott, President and CEO, Hallmark Channels, which are owned by Crown Media Holdings.
“When Hallmark Channels announced [in early August] that we were likely to be dropped from AT&T U-verse’s national channel lineup, I was moved by the immediate support from our loyal viewers. Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel represent the 100-year legacy of quality and trust of the Hallmark brand. We are the nation’s family networks, and we will continue to produce quality programs that connect people emotionally,” Abbott said.
Later Wednesday Hallmark Channel sent this additional statement from Abbott to RBR-TVBR: “When AT&T dropped our networks last night, they made clear that they don’t care to provide their viewers with family-friendly programming made with the 100-year-old legacy of Hallmark quality. AT&T’s charges that Hallmark Channels pulled the plug on our own networks and disadvantaged our own loyal viewers by not negotiating a fair deal for them are not true. Hallmark Channels presented a number of proposals in the course of the negotiations, which were fair and reasonable and, we felt, addressed AT&T’s concerns. Unfortunately, AT&T dropped our signals and we are at an impasse.”
In the place of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel, AT&T U-verse customers are now seeing a free preview of Starz Kids & Family on channel 176 and Turner Classic Movies on channels 794/1794.
Hallmark Channels, meanwhile, is continuing to encourage its dedicated viewers to call 1-888-MADE-4-FAMILY or go to www.donttakemyhallmarkchannels.com to request that AT&T put both channels back on its U-verse service.
RBR-TVBR observation: Members of Congress take note – once again a cable carriage dispute that has nothing to do with broadcast retransmission consent. The parties involved will once again do what is in their best business interests. U-verse subscribers who consider Hallmark Channel, especially the new Martha Stewart programming block, must-have TV have other video providers available who will be happy to accept their business.