Viacom, DirecTV talks fail; 26 channels go dark

Summary:Negotiations between Viacom and DirecTV have failed, forcing 26 channels off DirecTV's airwaves and leaving its customers to pay a 30 percent price hike if they want reconnected service.

Overnight, Viacom pulled the plug on 26 DirecTV television channels --- including MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon --- leaving millions of customers without content they had originally signed up for.

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DirecTV claimed Viacom was looking for a 30 percent bump in royalties for DirecTV to renew its subscriptions --- around $1 billion in total --- but DirecTV claimed this was too high. Viacom cut off much of DirecTV's service just before midnight on Wednesday.

Viacom and DirecTV were playing with fire and blamed one another for the failure to renew the contract, but ultimately only the customers got burned.

In the past few weeks, DirecTV took to the Web to promote its "DirecTV Promise" calling the rate increase "unreasonable" and "exorbitant," and pinned the blame entirely on how Viacom "decided to take away channels from [DirecTV's] customers" to force the customer to pay "substantially more."

Viacom hit back with its "When DirecTV Drops" campaign along with several blog posts explaining how DirecTV "dropped Viacom’s channels before our midnight deadline." 

Meanwhile, programme makers and channel owners have hit back mostly at DirecTV for the loss of service. 

Viacom said it had "proposed a fair deal that amounted to an increase of only a couple pennies per day, per subscriber," and that "DirecTV refused to engage in meaningful conversation."

DirecTV reiterated its 30 percent increase stance and noted how "Viacom took these channels away from DIRECTV viewers." The company added that Viacom had "knowingly put our customers in the unreasonable position of either accepting their extravagant financial demands."

"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," said Derek Chang, DirecTV executive vice president of content. 

DirecTV, which has around 20 million U.S. subscribers, said it will continue to work "diligently" on a new agreement."

Image credit: Twitter.

Topics: Censorship, Consumerization

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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