DirecTV, Viacom resume talks to restore MTV, BET other channels

Earns-DirecTV

(Associated Press)

(Updated 8:36 a.m.)

After a barrage of criticisms leveled at both sides, satellite TV provider DirecTV and programming provider Viacom sat down to resume talks on a new content deal Wednesday.

The resumption followed DirecTV’s decision to pull the plug on more than two dozen channels supplied by Viacom – among them MTV, BET, Comedy Central,  Jersey Shore, Nickelodeon, and CMT – after the two could not reach a deal by midnight Tuesday.

Spokespersons from both companies said talks had resumed, according to The Wall Street Journal. Chief Executive Officer Mike White said Wednesday talks were continuing but the two sides remained  “pretty far apart.”

Around 20 million DirecTV subscribers are affected by the blackout and they had plenty to say about  both companies on Twitter and on this blog.

“Shutting down was the right choice and one hopes it serves as a warning signal to other entertainment providers that their products are not worth significant cost increases, especially in this economic climate,” wrote “Kenneth Stallings” on this blog in siding with DirecTV.

“DirecTV can hide the additional charges somewhere in the bill like they do everything else,” wrote “David Anthony”. “They are trying to make us believe they care about the consumer.”

“The biggest question is will my monthly bill go down until this dispute is revolved?” asked commenter “NL.” “My payments are based on a certain amount of channels and if I am not getting those channels I should not be paying for them.” (DirecTV hasn’t said it’s lowering any bills due to the impasse.)

The contract dispute isn’t new. Just last month, 14 million Dish Network customers lost access to AMC Networks’ programming because Dish balked at having to carry bundled “low-rated channels like IFC and WE tv to access a few popular AMC shows,” Dish said.

DirecTV and programming giant Viacom have been trying to strike a new deal to extend their current seven-year contract, which expired June 30. The subscribers affected represent one-fifth of all satellite and cable TV viewers in the U.S.

Viacom said Monday that talks on a new distribution contract – the current one bundles channels – had reached an impasse. In a statement, Viacom said DirecTV had refused “to consider a fair deal that recognizes the value of Viacom programming.

DirecTV, however, says Viacom essentially wants more than $1 billion in additional fees, or 30 percent more, for programming that is losing viewership.  DirecTV wants to be able to pick and choose the programming it wants as part of the bundling deal, saying in a statement: “We currently pay them hundreds of millions of dollars every year already, and if Viacom thinks their networks are worth a billion more, then you have to be able to select what’s most important in your own living room. It’s your money, so you should be able to decide.”

In a statement to subscribers on its website, DirecTV said “Viacom forced us to take [the channels] down or face legal action. We’re doing everything we can to get these channels back on the air – without an unfair increase to your bill. In the meantime, we want to keep you connected to your favorite shows.”

On its website, Viacom said it is only asking DirecTV “for an increase of a couple of pennies per day per subscriber. That’s far less than DirecTV pays other programmers with fewer viewers than Viacom.”

Viacom added that it “has always been open to negotiating and hopes to get a deal done.”

DirecTV did not say how long the blackout would last, but one Wall Street analyst told The New York Times the duration could be one to four weeks.

DirecTV tried to reassure subscribers Wednesday that a deal will be inked. “Rest assured, we’ll get the deal done to get your channels back at a price you can still afford,” the company said.

It also tried to persuade subscribers not to switch to competitors. “Switching providers only makes it easier for programmers to increase your monthly bill no matter who provides your TV service,” DirecTV said.

Both companies are waging a public campaign to get viewers to pressure each side to strike a deal. Viacom is urging viewers to “call DirecTV now.” DirecTV warns viewers that “Viacom wants you to pay over 30% more.”

“Leebrsel” wrote on this blog, “Viacom and DirecTV execs…STOP acting like children, suck it up, play nice and sign a deal that gives the customers what they want!”

334 comments Add your comment

Stepchild

July 10th, 2012
7:14 pm

I hope this gets worked out so that I don’t have to select the Viacom bundle….I don’t watch most of those channels anymore. Nickelodeon – never; MTV – no music videos; BET – no music vids, CMT – don’t like it; Comedy Central – 5 times a year maybe…Spike – 5 times maybe. Kill all of these channels and lower my bill by 15 bucks.

Dave

July 10th, 2012
7:18 pm

Of the listed channels, the only one I’d miss is Comedy Central and then only for Stewart and Colbert. I’d dearly love ala carte pricing for cable and satellite; but, it isn’t going to happen any time soon.

Nicole

July 10th, 2012
7:19 pm

That’s just it Stepchild…your bill will not be lower…it will probably either go up or stay the same. So why pay the same for less channels? Even if you don’t watch these others do and I do not want to lose my BET.

Can't Get Right

July 10th, 2012
7:20 pm

I now know the reason you are a “Stepchild”

KeepDreaming

July 10th, 2012
7:24 pm

Keep Dreaming StepChild. These jerks will never lower your bill and I agree with Direct TV; no one should be forced to pay a billion dollars for any channels in those categories. They are truly loosing viewers.

dwight

July 10th, 2012
7:38 pm

That’s ok! I have over 200 channels, still nothing on tv. Don’t mind losing 25 channels, just lower my bill!

J C

July 10th, 2012
7:38 pm

just keep rfdtv, history tmc, starz local channels thats enough

DHD

July 10th, 2012
7:39 pm

Glad I dumped them last month

J C

July 10th, 2012
7:39 pm

will monica ever retire?

J C

July 10th, 2012
7:41 pm

logo is another worthless channel

Sam

July 10th, 2012
7:41 pm

Directv is a requirement for our home. We love it. Just like any other service you pay for the best. In this case Directv is the best. We only use a few of these channels but if Viacom wants to charge more and Directv isnt willing to pay the extreme amount then we will remain customers until they get the channels back. Other companies will be doing this soon anyways.

ryan

July 10th, 2012
7:41 pm

Thank i god i have Charter i know its not the best cable company but at least have all the channels Nick, MTV , Hallmark .

CableGuy

July 10th, 2012
7:43 pm

I couldn’t care less about those Viacom channels. “Programming Giant”? Ha…

leah

July 10th, 2012
7:44 pm

Viacom you should be ashamed!! I will not being paying more for these chanels ever!!! Don’t you realize we pay enough as it is!!

J C

July 10th, 2012
7:45 pm

i agree with sam, we have had directv since it came into the atl area, no other provider will do, they are no doubt the best, call them you get customer service right away, and so far they have all spoken good english.really had no need to call them except to change/cancel some features.

Buzzzted

July 10th, 2012
7:49 pm

DirecTV is simply the BEST TV viewing choice out there. Better channels, more HD, better menu screen and remote…..PERIOD. Those are not vital channels anyway…..let em go.

John

July 10th, 2012
7:49 pm

Nick @ night has lost all it’s good show to local digital channels and MTV and other music channels has lost to other media outlets so let them go off the air!

Michelle

July 10th, 2012
7:51 pm

I say boycott them all and when they have no money in there greedy hands they will be begging us to come back at half the bill price.

MARY

July 10th, 2012
7:52 pm

I we lose those channels i hope the montly bill will be less. I would really hate to lose BET

Earl

July 10th, 2012
7:55 pm

“Directv wants to be able to pick and choose the bundle it wants. GREAT IDEA!!! I think all directv customers would prefer the same. Let me just pay for the 10 channels I watch

CJ

July 10th, 2012
7:56 pm

Will our bill drop accordingly? Didn’t think so.

Fed up with this kinda crap

July 10th, 2012
7:57 pm

I don’t have DirecTV. I have Dish Network. They have pulled this kind of thing 3 times now. First it was with Fox, meaning I missed Braves games in 2010. Then it was Peachtree earlier this year, meaning i missed Braves games. Now, they’ve dropped the network that owns AMC and several other channels (WE). When we lost Peacthree, I called my Dish provider and threatened to leave and got a $10 discount on my bill. I’m was seriously considering doing that again and switching to DirecTV, but with this news, forget it.

Frill Artist

July 10th, 2012
7:57 pm

Nothing but greed from content providers.

Luis

July 10th, 2012
8:03 pm

If they are disconecting nick and other chanels I will not pay my bill and disconect directv.

MD

July 10th, 2012
8:06 pm

54 off air channels free in ATL. Why do I need that garbage anyway?

Mike Geigerman

July 10th, 2012
8:06 pm

I say let the greedy networks suffer I need smaller monthly expenses.. I voluntarily will give up a few of my favorite shows.. see ya Tosh

$$$$

July 10th, 2012
8:10 pm

Always a way for someone to make more money. Can someone increase my paycheck.

Earl

July 10th, 2012
8:14 pm

Pull the plug. The kids will be better off without MTV.

derek

July 10th, 2012
8:23 pm

keep all of the channels.

Sweetie Belle

July 10th, 2012
8:26 pm

I don’t want to loss nick!

Sweetie Belle

July 10th, 2012
8:27 pm

TurnerBrewer

July 10th, 2012
8:36 pm

I agree with DirecTv. That is why I cancelled my DirecTv service in August 2011. Now I only pay for theTv shows that I want on Apple Tv or watch free Tv via a attic antenna. Pay tv is a dying business model.

Sofia

July 10th, 2012
8:43 pm

WOW!!! This is STUPID!!! I watch ALL these channels, My children and I both watch Nick channels together…Friends I don’t care if they are reruns I’ve been watching this show since it would air in the 90’s and now I can watch them with my girls, Annoying Sponge Bob that my baby watches while I get my chores done ( then she watches some learning channel for babies while I sit with her so she doesn’t end up like Patrick. But the disappointment would definitely be telling her NO each time she wants to watch her fav cartoon. MTV has new shows that we all watch like Teen Wolf the season just started and to take that from us would be awful. IDK but I’d rather pay the disconnection fees then to continue with this contract with DirecTv and not be satisfied with my programming.

Name (required)

July 10th, 2012
8:47 pm

LOL….people pay for Dish Network? Wow. An idiot and his money are soon parted, huh?

Chuck ClausenChuck

July 10th, 2012
8:48 pm

I think it would be great to pay for what I watch on Direct TV – I have one TV set which gets just cable, minimum bill

Cal

July 10th, 2012
8:51 pm

Dump ‘em all. Colbert and Stewart are available online, anyway. Raise my rates and I’ll consider dumping DirecTV altogether. The only reason I still have it is for the MLB package, and that’s now available for streaming via LG Blu-Ray players.

OedipusTax

July 10th, 2012
8:58 pm

Sure would be great if I could select only the channels I watch with DirectTV, maybe a dozen maximum, except for the baseball arrangement. The Braves play somewhere in the 700 series, sometimes somewhere in the 600 series, and then on 5 and other times on 17. But I watch movies and sports. That’s it. My wife watches early morning inspirational shows. That’s it. Would be great for more flexiblity that would save us money.

Tom Shoupe

July 10th, 2012
8:59 pm

Who cares? Not me. Most of those channels are brainless events.

dump em and lower my bill

July 10th, 2012
9:05 pm

Enter your comments here

OTP

July 10th, 2012
9:07 pm

I will not miss ANY of the Viacom channels. Let them be dropped.

Thetruth

July 10th, 2012
9:08 pm

Would miss TV Land! The rest…never watch them.

Really Everyone?

July 10th, 2012
9:17 pm

One way to lower the cable bill….get rid of it! We have a high def antenna located in our basement and we get all the local channels plus a few more! We don’t watch a lot of tv and don’t see why everyone puts such emphasis on it! If people would quit buying, I imagine they would lower the prices eventually – it’s all about supply and demand!

RunKatieRun!

July 10th, 2012
9:19 pm

Here’s a suggestion: TURN OF YOUR TV & GO OUTSIDE & PLAY !

straightshooter

July 10th, 2012
9:21 pm

Only thing worth watching on DirecTV is Channel 608 Pursuit Channel, which is all outdoors. and Fox News. Everybody’s got the Pursuit Channel, as it is included in the base package of DirecTV and Dish Network (240).

Viacom can stick it where the sun won’t shine. I remember when the bought TNN and turned it into Spike Network. Got rid of a great network for pure trash.

Traffic Headache

July 10th, 2012
9:26 pm

Fox News worth watching? “We distort–you comply”? That’s a laugh.

sparta_bubba

July 10th, 2012
9:29 pm

If this isn’t a crock of hooey!!! DirectTV is saying they want to be to “pick and choose” which of Viacom’s offerings they want to purchase. At the same time they will not allow us poor slobs, their customers to do the same. It’s buy their packages or else. I currently pay for a bunch of channels that I can look at, but can’t understand one word that is being said since I only speak and understand English. Do you think DirectTV will let me eliminate them from my package and pay for only those channels in a language that I speak and understand? In other words let me “pick and choose.”

Jerry

July 10th, 2012
9:35 pm

I wish diretv would pay me every time my signal freezes in the rain. Seriously I will be in the middle of a program and that stupid flying directv comes across the screen. I tried to get out but they were going to charge me an arm and a leg. 3 months and counting til I’m free.

HiGuy

July 10th, 2012
9:40 pm

personally I fall on the side of DirecTV. Viacom, just be glad we watch you at all! Considering how much quality content is available through our ROKU. ie netflix, hulu, crackle, amazon prime… and about a thousand other channels.

Go ahead Viacom. Disappear off our TV. We won’t miss you, and frankly I won’t have to bother buying your toys for my kids for Christmas. Since they won’t have any clue who your characters are.

With 300 other channels to watch, and endless entertainment through our roku, our family is not going to miss your shows at all.

If you want to stay on our television than I am sure we will watch. But you are far less important to us than you seem to think you are!

william

July 10th, 2012
9:43 pm

we watch viacom in this house.we have been with Direct t.v. since 20003.

chasmcjr

July 10th, 2012
9:45 pm

Enter your comments here
DirecTV needs to let ‘um ride! Viacom is not worth it. In fact, there are allot of other channels that could go away too and it would not bother me in the least. About half of it is garbage! I would much rather be able to pick my own programming and pay less.