By Joe Flint
LOS ANGELES -- Dish Network subscribers who love AMC's "Breaking Bad" may be out of luck if a feud between the satellite broadcaster and the cable channel's parent AMC Networks isn't resolved soon.
Besides AMC, home to "The Walking Dead," "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men," other channels that could be dropped include WE, which caters to females, and IFC and Sundance, which focus primarily on independent cinema. Dish's contract with AMC Networks Inc. is up at the end of June. Dish has just over 14 million subscribers around the country.
Dish Network Corp. said it is dropping the channels because the ratings for the networks do not justify a rate increase that it says AMC Networks is seeking. Dish also said it was not happy that shows such as "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" are made available on other platforms such as Netflix and iTunes soon after the shows have aired on AMC.
But AMC is not the only network whose content appears on other platforms soon after a cable run. Some shows may appear on Netflix or iTunes within days of a cable run. In other cases though, shows are held off of other platforms until after the season ends.
In a statement, AMC said Dish's plans to drop the channels has nothing to do with the performance of its networks or their cost, but instead with another legal battle the two companies are in.
In 2008, Voom HD, a now-defunct group of cable channels owned by AMC, sued Dish for $2.5 billion for breach of contract. The case is wending its way through the courts and last week Dish lost an appeal, which AMC said is the cause for the bad blood.
"It is unfortunate that, because of setbacks in an unrelated litigation, Dish even suggests that they might deny their customers access to some of their favorite networks and shows that are offered by every other major satellite and cable TV provider," AMC said.
Dish responded that the Voom litigation is a "separate matter" and that AMC's statement "distorts the facts of the current situation and incorrectly attempts to tie together two separate issues."Fans of "Mad Men" who are Dish subscribers don't have to worry. The show will have ended its season before June 30.