By Sonya Magett, EnStarz | Jul 11, 2012 05:18 PM EDT
DirecTV announced that its customers were left without Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and 14 other channels after Viacom Inc demanded that its networks be dropped from it's lineup in a dispute over fees, according to Reuters.
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DirecTV's contract with Viacom, which had been in place for the last seven years, expired at midnight Tuesday.
DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite TV provider with nearly 20 million subscribers, said its executives had approached Viacom with a new proposal and a request to continue broadcasting the channels as talks proceeded, but received no response, according to the report.
"It's unfortunate consumers for the first time are not able to enjoy our channels," said Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman said,
"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," DirecTV Executive Vice President Derek Change said in a statement.
DirecTV has an information resource for customers affected by programming that offers alternatives. The website states that DirecTV will offer several Encore channels for free until July 31st.
"To thank you for your patience until Viacom channels are returned, all 8 Encore Channels (including Encore Family) will be made available to all of our Residential customers thru July 31st," is posted on the website.
"We have absolutely no problem compensating Viacom fairly, but they have now knowingly put our customers in the unreasonable position of either accepting their extravagant financial demands or losing some of their favorite TV shows," said Chang, according to Businesswire. "We feel our customers should not have to pay more for these networks than the customers of any other TV provider. We reiterated this to Viacom today and have not heard back from them."
"We understand that Viacom's actions are inconveniencing our customers so we are doing everything we can to help them find alternative programming until this gets resolved," Chang added. "Customers will now see a variety of replacement channels available to them on one screen, in a Mix Channel format, when they tune to a Viacom channel. For instance, those going to the Nickelodeon channel slot will see alternative choices for children's programming such as The Disney Channel, ABC Family, Cartoon Network, PBS Sprout, The Hub and Boomerang. Customers can also see full-length Viacom episodes for free by going to www.directvpromise.com and clicking on the 'Other Ways to Watch' tab."
This is not the first time a distributor has blacked out Viacom's channels due to a contract dispute. In 2004, Dish dropped some Viacom networks after the two sides failed to reach agreement on a new distribution deal. That blackout was short-lived, lasting less than 48 hours.
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