@BryanCranston: If you're with Dish Network tell them not to screw with Walter White. They are threatening to drop AMC before the premiere of Breaking Bad.
From Bryan Cranston's twitter account on Wednesday, June 20, 2012.
Sage advice, indeed. Walter White is not a man to be screwed with, and yet that is precisely what appears to be happening.
If you've watched AMC recently for more than 45 seconds, I'm sure you've seen the message scrolling across the bottom of the screen. It informs viewers that Dish Network is set to drop the cable home of Walter White (and Don Draper and dozens other characters we all love) beginning on Sunday, July 1, 2012.
It is still a possibility (although the likelihood is diminishing by the day) that AMC and Dish Network can strike a last minute deal to salvage their business relationship. If they can't, it means that subscribers to the satellite television provider will be forced to peer through a bullet hole in the door of their neighbor's mobile home cum meth lab if they want to catch a glimpse of Breaking Bad's new season. AMC will be long gone from the Dish Network channel bundle when the upcoming season, which is the first of a two part final season, premieres on July 15.
Subscribers will also miss a preview weekend of The Walking Dead in July. The Walking Dead returns with a new season in earnest around Halloween.
AMC points the blame-finger squarely at Dish Network, accusing them of dropping the channel (as well as AMC's sister-channels like WE tv, IFC and Sundance) in retaliation for a lawsuit filed against Dish Network by AMC in 2008. That situation also involved Dish Network's decision not to air an AMC-owned show.
“It is unfortunate that, in retaliation for an unrelated lawsuit, Dish is punishing its customers by threatening to drop the AMC Networks,” an AMC spokesman told Wired earlier this month. The threats have now prompted twitter counter-threats from a fictional meth super-cook/domestic terrorist, and AMC is actively urging Dish Network subscribers to switch to one of the satellite company's competitors.
“The decision is based on what we see as relatively high cost for a relatively low viewership this is a value equation,” Toeves said to Wired on June, 11, 2012. This theory is the more plausible than the retaliation accusations; Dish Network has a history of feuding with networks and cable channels over licensing fees. (Here's a piece I wrote on a very similar dispute between Dish Networks' main satellite competitor, DirecTV, and Fox in October, 2011). It would be silly for Dish Network to axe a bunch of channels out of spite, especially if those channels were profitable.
I really have no idea what caused the dispute or who is at fault. Nor do I care. These scenarios are reminiscent of the recent lockouts in the NBA and NFL. Owners (Dish Network) and players (AMC) were unable to agree on a fair level of compensation, and ultimately the fans are the ones who really pay the price. I hope that AMC gets an 11th hour reprieve from Dish Networks' Hank Grotowsk; it would be a real shame if fans had to jump through hoops to watch their favorite shows.