Changing Channels today welcomes all you jillions of disconsolate, aimless Hallmark and Hallmark Movie Channel views who've been shuffling around like zombies since you lost access to your channels through AT&T U-Verse early Wednesday morning. Don't worry, guys! This blog, with its obsessional pursuit of ever-racier photos of Jennifer Aniston and Dana Delany, a relaunch of NBC's American Dreams and a Swanson's TV dinner Hall of Fame (first member: enchiladas), is even more more fun than the heartwarmingest Hallmark movie about romance after divorce or the death of a pet. Why, even Keith Olberman is frequent visitor! (He's the one in the trenchcoat and dark glasses, over in the corner. Don't make any sudden moves around him -- he's a biter.)
The loss of your channels was a result of the increasingly hardball nature of negotiations between producers and service providers over the fees paid for programming. Hallmark and AT&T have been negotiating frantically since August 1, but talks broke down Tuesday night, and at midnight Hallmark pulled the plug. Your channels might be back soon, but then again, they might not. When the Versus sports channel got into a fight over money with DirecTV, it took six months to get it straightened out.
The good news is that you Hallmark fans are probably going to have plenty of company around here. The deal between Time Warner Cable and Disney expires on Sept. 2, and unless negotiations take a sudden turn for the positive, Time Warner viewers are going to lose access to the entire Rodent Empire: ABC, ESPN, Disney Channel and everything else Disney owns.