Viacom Networks Go Dark on DirecTV

 

Seventeen Viacom-owned cable channels went dark on DirecTV on Tuesday just before midnight Eastern as the companies failed to reach a new carriage agreement.

The channels yanked from the satellite TV giant's lineup include Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, BET, VH1, CMT, Logo, Spike, TV Land, MTV2, VH1 Classic, Palladia, Nick Jr., NickToons and TeenNick, in addition to several HD counterparts.

DirecTV has about 20 million subscribers. Including the HD channels, it carries a total of 26 Viacom-owned channels.

A Viacom rep wrote on the company's blog that DirecTV "dropped the channels without giving Viacom advanced warning," adding that the last time the two sides were in contact was at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

"We are deeply disappointed that DirecTV dropped Viacom’s channels before our midnight deadline this evening, severing our connection with its nearly 20 million subscribers nationwide," the company said in a statement. "We proposed a fair deal that amounted to an increase of only a couple pennies per day, per subscriber, and we remained willing to negotiate that deal right up to this evening’s deadline. However, DirecTV refused to engage in meaningful conversation. We are hopeful that DirecTV will work with us toward a resolution, and stop denying its subscribers access to the networks they watch most."

For its part, DirecTV says Viacom is pushing for a carriage fee increase of more than 30 percent and blames the blackout on Viacom.

“We have been very willing to get a deal done, but Viacom is pushing DirecTV customers to pay more than a 30 percent increase, which equates to an extra $1 billion, despite the fact that the ratings for many of their main networks have plummeted and much of Viacom’s programming can be seen for free online,” said Derek Chang, DirecTV executive vp content, strategy and development. “Viacom sent us a letter [Monday] night that outlined our obligations to remove the channels by midnight or face legal action just as they were falsely telling viewers DirecTV was responsible. Let’s be clear, Viacom took these channels away from DirecTV viewers.”

DirecTV said it reached out to Viacom with a "new proposal and a request to keep the channels on while we continued to negotiate, but never heard back, so DirecTV had to comply with their demand to take the channels down or face legal action."

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