Viacom, TW Cable locked in scrap over carriage fees

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Viacom and Time Warner Cable are mired in a carriage-fee dust-up that could result in 19 channels — from MTV and Comedy Central to Nickelodeon and TV Land — being yanked from more than 13 million homes by midnight tonight.

Ongoing talks became heated Tuesday as the contract deadline neared and Viacom said it would pull the channels off Time Warner Cable systems if a deal isn't in place. Talks are scheduled to continue today.

Viacom said it's asking for a "reasonable and moderate" rate increase for its 19 channels. The fee increase adds up to about 25 cents per subscriber per month. A Time Warner Cable spokesman said the increase — between 22%-36% per channel — is "outrageous" given the poor economy and is designed to make up for declining ad revenue and poor ratings.

"We make this request because TWC has so greatly undervalued our channels for so long," Viacom said in a statement. The company said it had either signed or is close to signing renewals with many of the major MSOs and satellite carriers.

Time Warner Cable counters that many of Viacom's most popular content is available online for free. Why, Time Warner Cable asks, would customers pay roughly 15% more for content that is available for free? (partialdiff)
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