There hasn’t been much cause for the 80’s MTV slogan, since nearly every cable and satellite company carries MTV and a slew of other Viacom owned cable channels. Last night 9 million Dish Network subscribers got caught in the middle of a pissing match between Viacom and EchoStar (owner of Dish Network). From the Hollywood Reporter:
EchoStar Communications dropped all Viacom-owned channels, including CBS O&Os (ed. – Owned and operated) in 16 major markets, from its Dish Network satellite service as of 12:01 a.m. today, leaving its 9 million subscribers without access to MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, Comedy Central and other widely distributed channels.
One minute after midnight, Viacom-owned channels and CBS O&Os on the Dish Network service were replaced by a text title card (accompanied by a melodic solo acoustic guitar soundtrack) informing subscribers that the channels are dark because “Viacom has demanded rate increases which are unreasonable and would contribute to a higher monthly bill for you.” The slate says EchoStar hopes to resolve the dispute quickly and directs subscribers to the Dish Network Web site for more information.
The move came after hours of last-minute negotiations between EchoStar and Viacom aimed at striking a new carriage agreement to avoid a blackout of popular channels. But the two sides have turned bitter adversaries in recent weeks, battling in court EchoStar’s claims that Viacom is violating anti-trust laws by bundling its channel services and seeking what EchoStar has termed “excessive” rate hikes in a new deal.According to industry experts 1.6 million Dish Network subscribers have lost their local CBS affiliate feed with the one of CBS’s signature events (the NCAA Basketball tournament) starting next Thursday. Negotiations appear to be occurring mostly in the media, with both sides digging in for a long fight:
Asked about the state of negotiations during an appearance at the Bear Stearns Media, Entertainment & Information Conference in Florida on Monday, Viacom chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone said he couldn’t’ predict if and when a resolution would be found. However, he said the company will remain steadfast.
“Viacom will not and cannot give (EchoStar chairman) Charlie Ergen a better deal than (News Corp. chairman) Rupert Murdoch or (Comcast chairman) Brian Roberts,” Redstone said. “But if Charlie Ergen wants to have a good deal, he can have it.”Doesn’t sound too promising, does it? Dish subscribers should note that DirecTV is offering free installation and receivers for 3 TV right now.