Time Warner Cable's 13 million subscribers will see almost 20 channels go dark when the ball drops on New Year's Eve, if a new deal with Viacom Inc. is not agreed upon on Wednesday.
Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, VH1 and numerous other channels will cease transmitting to Time Warner Cable homes if the nation's second-largest cable operator does not sign off on what Viacom calls "reasonable and moderate" carriage fee increases totaling 25 cents a month per subscriber.
A spokesperson for Time Warner — which primarily serves New York state, the Carolinas, Ohio, Southern California and Texas — counters that what Viacom is asking for is "an exorbitant increase," especially in light of the current economy and the sagging ratings for Viacom shows. Said TWC president and CEO Glenn A Britt in a statement, "We sympathize with the fact that Viacom's advertising business is suffering and that their networks' ratings have largely been declining. However, we can't abide their attempt to make up their lost revenue on the backs of Time Warner Cable customers."
Viacom justifies its request by saying in a statement, "Time Warner Cable has so greatly undervalued our channels for so long. Ultimately, [if] our programming is discontinued — over less than a penny per day — we believe viewers will see this behavior by their cable company as outrageous."
Talks continued on Wednesday, though at last check-in there were no signs of progress. Among the deeper issues at hand is that fact that many of Viacom's more popular shows are rerun, for free, on websites that generate ad revenue which is not then shared with Time Warner.
What's your take, Time Warner subscribers? Do you have an extra two bits to dole out in exchange for the package of Comedy Central, CMT: Pure Country, Logo, Palladia, MTV, MTV 2, MTV Hits, MTV Jams, MTV Tr3s, Nickelodeon, Noggin, Nick 2, Nicktoons, Spike, The N, TV Land, VH1, VH1 Classic and VH1 Soul?
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