DirecTV CEO: Companies Remain 'Pretty Far Apart' in Viacom Carriage Talks

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DirecTV CEO Mike White said late Wednesday that his company and Viacom remain “pretty far apart” in continuing negotiations about a new carriage deal for 17 Viacom networks.

Asked about the dispute over programming fees that the satellite TV giant pays for such Viacom channels as MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, White, according to Bloomberg News, told reporters on the sidelines of the Allen & Co. Mogul gathering in Sun Valley, Idaho: "We’re happy to do a fair deal. We’re talking."

Viacom’s networks, 26 when including HD feeds, went dark for the about 20 million DirecTV subscribers just before midnight on Tuesday after the companies failed to reach a new arrangement following an brief extension of their previous carriage deal.

“We offered a hefty increase,” White told Bloomberg, without sharing details. “We always said we’ll pay a fair price consistent with other large distributors."

BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield said in a report that "DirecTV is making a critical mistake by allowing Viacom programming to be dropped." He added: "While we appreciate DirecTV’s goal of maintaining robust free cash flow and an aggressive share repurchase program, we believe losing a wide array of programming valued by their subscribers could seriously harm the company."


Twitter: @georgszalai

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