Viacom channels may go dark on Time Warner

Dec. 31, 2008 at 3:57 PM
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NEW YORK, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Viacom says Time Warner Cable is overreaching for profit at the expense of its viewers by letting Viacom's channels go dark Thursday.

As the two U.S. media giants work to hammer out a renewal agreement, Viacom warns Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV may go dark as of 12:01 a.m., Jan. 1, when its contract with Time Warner expires.

Among the shows Time Warner customers may no longer get are "Dora the Explorer," "SpongeBob SquarePants," "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," "The Colbert Report" and "The Hills."

"The renewal we are seeking is reasonable and modest relative to the profits TWC enjoys from our networks. We have asked for an increase of less than 25 cents per month, per subscriber, which adds up to less than a penny per day for all 19 of MTV Networks' channels," Viacom said in a statement. "We make this request because TWC has so greatly undervalued our channels for so long. Americans spend more than 20 percent of their TV viewing time watching our networks, yet our fees amount to less than 2.5 percent of what Time Warner generates from their average customer."

However, Time Warner Cable head Glenn Britt insists it is Viacom that is being unreasonable.

"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," quoted Britt as saying Wednesday.

"We hope Viacom won't pull the MTV Networks from Time Warner Cable customers, and we'll negotiate up to the last possible minute and beyond. But ultimately, it is Viacom's decision. We implore them to join with us to reach a fair resolution or grant an extension, and we hope they won't carry through with their threat to take their networks away from our customers tonight."

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