DirecTV Customers Lose Stewart and Colbert
Those of us who subscribe to DirecTV have lost Comedy Central and 16 other Viacom channels.
USA Today (“20M DirecTV subscribers lose 17 Viacom channels in dispute“):
DirecTV’s 20 million satellite TV subscribers have lost 17 channels produced by Viacom in a dispute about the fees paid to broadcast the media company’s programs.
Late Tuesday night, the satellite service removed BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike and VH1 because contract talks with Viacom had reached an impasse.
Viacom sent DirecTV a letter on Tuesday ordering the pay-TV provider to “remove the channels by midnight or face legal action,” said Derek Chang, DirecTV’s executive vice president of content, strategy and development in a statement sent out late Tuesday.
The satellite provider hoped to continue transmitting the channels as the two sides continued their negotiations, he said. DirecTV said Viacom is seeking a 30% increase in fees, which would amount to an additional $1 billion. Chang noted that “ratings for many of (Viacom’s) main networks have plummeted, and much of Viacom’s programming can be seen for free online.”
Viacom countered, saying that DirecTV has been paying “the same bargain rate” for its programming for seven years. Viacom is the top programmer on the service and Nickelodeon is the most watched individual channel on DirecTV, Viacom says, with 20% of viewers watching a Viacom channel at any given time.
The media company wants an increase that amounts to “a couple pennies per day, per subscriber,” wrote Mark Jafar, Viacom’s vice president for corporate communications on the company’s official blog (blog.viacom.com).
These disputes are rather common and quite annoying. It took years for most cable customers to get access to the NFL Network, for example. At the end of the day, the programmers almost always win: It’s the programming that people are paying for, not the mode of delivery.