AT&T is ready to restart negotiations with Hallmark, according
to a spokesperson for AT&T's U-verse multichannel video service, though a
Hallmark exec said the last official word they got said that was not the case.
Hallmark's channels have been off U-verse since the two could not
come to carriage terms Aug. 31.
A Hallmark spokesperson told B&C last week that the company
was "ready and willing" to resume negotiations, which broke off after
that Aug. 31 midnight deadline passed without a deal.
"We're ready to resume talks at any time," said AT&T
spokesperson Jenny Bridges Thursday, appearing to complete the circuit.
"We want nothing more than to reach a fair agreement and continue to bring
customers the content they want."
Susanne McAvoy, SVP of marketing and communications for
Hallmark, responded that one of Hallmark's top negotiators reached out to one
of their top negotiators in a call on Tuesday and was told: "'No, there is
no change, we are not willing to negotiate,' so that is where things are,"
she said. But McAvoy also reiterated that Hallmark continues to be willing
to resume talks.
Bridges had no comment.
AT&T has said it offered to continue carrying the channel on
the old terms without a contract while they continued to negotiate, but that
Hallmark declined. A Hallmark spokesperson said an extension was not granted
because it received a termination letter from AT&T.
Talks broke off two weeks ago but resumed last week and went right
up to the deadline.
The rhetoric has gotten pointed at times.
AT&T has charged that Hallmark has "refused to adhere to
key obligations" under its current deal, while Hallmark President Bill
Abbott countered that he was "stunned" by what he called the
"apparent disregard for the facts in AT&T's statement regarding our