Hallmark Goes Dark on AT&T U-verse

AT&T U-verse pulled the plug on the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel at midnight Wednesday (Sept. 1) after the two companies were unable to reach a new carriage agreement. About 2.3 million in 122 markets were affected.

Word that the two channels might disappear from AT&T’s lineup came early in the month when AT&T notified its customers via postcards. According to AT&T, negotiations hit a standstill on Aug. 26.

“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 of Hallmark Channels, which is owned and operated by Crown Media Holdings.

In a statement, AT&T said it offered to extend its current deal with Hallmark while negotiations continue, but that 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 ET. 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,” AT&T said in a statement.

In the place of the two Hallmark channels, AT&T is airing programming from Starz Kids & Family and Turner Classic Movies.