Viacom, DirecTV bury the hatchet

Michelle Clancy | 20-07-2012

The carriage fee dispute between Viacom and satellite operator DirecTV that has resulted in a 10-day blackout of MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and other television channels for 20 million subscribers has been resolved. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Viacom said that all 26 Viacom networks, including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, BET, CMT, Logo, Spike, TV Land, MTV2, VH1, VH1 Classic, Palladia, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, TeenNick, Tr3s and Centric, will return to DirecTV's channel lineup immediately.
However, DirecTV said that only 17 have been restored. It also didn't shy from taking a chastising tone amongst the peace celebrations.
"It's unfortunate that Viacom took the channels away from customers to try to gain leverage, but in the end, it's clear our customers recognised that tactic for what it was," said Derek Chang, executive vice president of content strategy and development for DirecTV, referring to the negligible amount of churn that the operator saw during the dispute.
As part of the overall carriage agreement, DirecTV has an option to add the EPIX service to its entertainment offerings. And, the new deal covers TV Everywhere access via laptops, tablets and smartphones.
"Viacom is extremely pleased to bring its programming back to DIRECTV subscribers, and thanks everyone affected by the disruption for their patience and understanding during this challenging period," the company said in a statement.
DirecTV had said that Viacom was asking for a 30% increase in retransmission fees for a bundle that would force it to carry (and pay for) lesser-known channels like Palladia as part of the deal for getting popular fare like MTV. The proposed hike would translate into the satco paying an extra $1 billion, it said. For its part, Viacom said it was looking for merely "a few cents" more per subscriber, and was requesting "a fair deal."