- Last Updated: 11:37 PM, July 10, 2012
- Posted: 11:37 PM, July 10, 2012
Viacom said an impasse in contract talks with DirecTV may mean almost 20 million subscribers will lose access to 26 channels, including MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.
Viacom threatened a blackout beginning midnight last night if the two sides hadn’t reached a new fee agreement, or failing an agreement to keep talking past the midnight deadline.
Viacom is demanding that the provider take its channels down during any continuation of talks, a DirecTV spokesman, Darris Gringeri, said.
The standoff marks the latest fee tussle between a pay-TV provider and program supplier, after such fights have blacked out channels to millions of subscribers. Viacom said on its blog that shows from its networks amount to 20 percent of the audience at El Segundo, Calif.-based DirecTV, the largest US satellite-TV service. DirecTV cites falling ratings at Viacom’s channels.
“It has been inconceivable that any distributor could drop Viacom’s networks, mostly because of Nickelodeon,” Todd Juenger, a Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst in New York, wrote in a note in June. “But ratings are down, often significantly, at networks representing 71 percent of Viacom affiliate fees.”
Viacom fell 1.6 percent to $46.86 at the close in New York. The Class B stock had gained 4.8 percent this year. DirecTV declined 0.3 percent to $48.69 and had climbed 15 percent this year.
Robert Mercer, a spokesman for DirecTV, said in an interview the 26 channels include nine high-definition versions of the 17 Viacom networks carried by the company.
Other affected channels include BET, CMT, Spike, TV Land and VH1.
The parties have been negotiating for several months and extended their current seven-year agreement past the original June 30 expiration while talks continued, Viacom said.