Telus sues AMC over threatened shutdown in contract dispute

TORONTO Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:27pm EDT

TORONTO Oct 15 (Reuters) - Canadian telecom company Telus Corp is suing AMC to stop the maker of hit television shows "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" from withholding its content by the end of the month as it pushes for higher fees, a legal filing showed.

In the complaint, dated Oct. 11 and filed in a New York court, Telus said AMC is using strong-arm tactics to renegotiate terms of a long-standing deal, and that, contrary to AMC's claims, it has never breached the terms of that deal.

The Western Canada-focused company, which had about 750,000 television subscribers at the end of June, said that AMC had itself breached the agreement between the two parties, by attempting to terminate it without proper notice or justification.

AMC said it does not comment on pending litigation.

AMC, owned by AMC Networks, is riding a wave of popularity for several of its shows and is seeking to increase the amount it charges TV distributors to carry them.

Its cult zombie horror series, "The Walking Dead," drew its largest ever audience last weekend, with 16.1 million people watching the series premiere of one of America's most popular TV shows.

The company last month won an Emmy award for best drama for "Breaking Bad," about a meth-dealing high school teacher.

But Telus noted that series has ended its run and "Mad Men," another popular AMC show about the New York advertising world in the 1960s, is due to wrap up in early 2015.

Telus said that AMC is "seeking to capitalize on what it realizes may be fleeting success" and that AMC has no legal standing to terminate their deal, which was reached in early 2010 and runs to the end of 2014.

Telus also sought to stop AMC from broadcasting a scrolling message during the "Walking Dead" season premiere for Telus subscribers, telling them the service would soon be cut. The message was ultimately not used.

AMC earlier this year reached a multi-year deal with Canada's Rogers Communications Inc, a Telus rival, after using similarly public pressure tactics.

The filing is Telus Communications Company vs American Movie Classics IV Holding Corp and Hibernia Media Llc, case number 13-CIV-7227.

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