If you’re an AT&T Uverse customer, you may be forgiven for wondering what happened to the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel today. The answer is, of course, an argument over money.
Attempts to reach a new deal that would allow the carrier to continue running the two channels before their current deal ended at midnight last night failed and both channels have disappeared from Uverse listings already, replaced by previews of programming from Starz Kids & Family and Turner Classic Movies. Obviously, both sides are blaming each other. AT&T’s statement on the subject includes the lines “We offered to extend the current deal while talks continued, and Hallmark rejected that offer. 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,” while Hallmark’s president and CEO Bill Abbot said, “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.”
The real loser in this breakdown? Martha Stewart, of all people; her Omnimedia family of programming moves to Hallmark in less than two weeks. If a deal can’t be reached before then, it’ll be an unhappy debut for the former queen of nice.