Dish Network has dropped AMC's networks to the bottom of its channel grid as the satellite giant gears up to drop the channels entirely this summer.
Dish moved AMC to channel 9,609 from 130 late last night, AMC said. It dropped AMC sibling IFC to 9,607 from 131 and We TV to 9,608 from 128.
The changed confused viewers, who took to Facebook, believing Dish already shed the networks -- with the season finale of "Mad Men" approaching on Sunday.
The channels' demotion came shortly after AMC began running a campaign during last night's episode of "Mad Men" petitioning viewers to fight back against Dish's stated plan to drop them after their carriage deal expires at the end of June. In response, AMC has set up a website, www.keepamc.com, and a phone line, 1-855-KEEP-AMC.
Dish Network has argued that low ratings and the availability of shows such as "Mad Men" on streaming video services such as Netflix have devalued the channels' content. But AMC believes the move has more to do with a court battle now underway.
The retransmission battle is taking place in conjunction with pending litigation between Dish and AMC that dates back to 2008. The case involves the now-defunct Voom HD, a subsidiary of Rainbow Media, predecessor to AMC Networks. Dish had terminated its carriage contract, arguing that viewership was low. Voom filed suit, seeking damages of more than $2.5 billion. The case is set to go to trial, something Dish had been trying to avoid, on Sept. 18.
"It is unfortunate that , in retaliation for an unrelated lawsuit, Dish is punishing its customers by threatening to drop the AMC Networks, and with this sudden, dramatic change in channel position, making it extremely difficult for their customers to find and watch some of the most popular and acclaimed shows on television," AMC said in an emailed statement.
Dish Network did not immediately return a request for comment.