AMC Chief Says Network, No Longer the 'New Guy,' Has Earned Higher Ad Rates

'AMC is Quite a Different Channel in 2011 Than It Was in 2006,' Sapan Says

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The head of AMC Networks has a message for ad buyers and cable operators: We're undercharging you... for now.

President and CEO Josh Sapan said Tuesday morning that his stations' ad rates and carriage fees don't accurately reflect the ratings and market presence they command. Almost five years after the company's flagship AMC station started making waves in original content with critically acclaimed shows like "Mad Men," Mr. Sapan did some saber-rattling in indicating that 's about to change.

AMC has come far since 'Mad Men' debuted in 2007, its CEO said.
AMC has come far since 'Mad Men' debuted in 2007, its CEO said.

"We were newer to the advertising buying community," Mr. Sapan said at the annual UBS Media and Communications conference in New York. "So when we walked in the door, we were the new guy who had to introduce ourselves, and advertisers and agencies were unaccustomed to us."

AMC Networks will also press cable and satellite operators to pay more to carry its channels, especially the flagship, Mr. Sapan said.

"Our rates on AMC are particularly out of whack," he said. "AMC is quite a different channel in 2011 than it was in 2006, 2007 and 2008. ... AMC is way underpriced."

Mr. Sapan didn't say exactly when revenue would come in line with what the company feels is justified, but with five original shows performing well on AMC, the time is near, he said.

"We think we've accomplished a couple of the things we set out to do, one of which is to be a network of import," he said.

Mr. Sapan also said the company is keeping a number of other original shows in development in case any of its current hits flame out.

"We're, I hope, quite well-prepared for things not going perfectly," he said.

Next year's lineup is slated to include the unscripted series "JJK Security," about life at a private security firm.

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