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Summary:

What would happen to New York if The Daily Show went off the air? Where would hipsters get their daily Moment of Zen? No Spongebob Squarepants either – which means the Upper East side mommies would actually have to talk to their kids. A dispute between […]

What would happen to New York if The Daily Show went off the air? Where would hipsters get their daily Moment of Zen? No Spongebob Squarepants either – which means the Upper East side mommies would actually have to talk to their kids. A dispute between Time Warner Cable and Viacom over fees is going to impact Time Warner Cable customers in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and several other cities on January 1. The channels likely to go off the air include Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, VH1 and MTV.

At the crux of the problem: Viacom wants to increase the rights fees to its 19 channels. Time Warner Cable says this is a bad time to be asking consumers to pay more money to watch television. Given the state of the economy, TWC seems to have a point. To this Viacom counters in a press release:

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. We make this request because TWC has so greatly undervalued our channels for so long. Americans spend more than 20% of their TV viewing time watching our networks, yet our fees amount to less than 2.5% of what Time Warner generates from their average customer.

The increase is going to be about $3 a month for the subscribers. TWC says that Viacom is trying to get more money out of its pockets because the advertising market has tanked. “The root of this is that the advertising market has gone soft and Viacom is desperate,” Alexander Dudley, a spokesman for Time Warner Cable, told The New York Times.

Dudley wasn’t shy about spanking Viacom in public. He told The Los Angeles Times:

They are holding our customers hostage for a bunch of networks with sagging ratings and only one or two good channels. We have to hold the line for our customers.

Snap! There have been troubles between content owners and carriage providers recently. Echostar and Viacom got into each other’s faces in 2004. TWC and ABC have tussled over price issues. Except this time around, Viacom has Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on its side.

Time Warner Cable says it is going to respond by telling people where to watch these very channels online – using, of course, its broadband pipes.

“We will be telling our customers exactly where they can go to see these programs online,” Mr. Dudley said. “We’ll also be telling them how they can hook up their PCs to a television set.

Viacom Networks’ Full Statement:

The move by Time Warner Cable to force such channels as Nickelodeon, COMEDY CENTRAL and MTV off the air is another example of a cable company overreaching for profit at the expense of its viewers.

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.

We make this request because TWC has so greatly undervalued our channels for so long. Americans spend more than 20% of their TV viewing time watching our networks, yet our fees amount to less than 2.5% of what Time Warner generates from their average customer.

Throughout the country, we have negotiated equitable license agreement renewals, or are in the final stages of renewals, with virtually every cable and satellite carrier. Nevertheless, Time Warner Cable has dismissed our efforts at a fair compromise and has effectively chosen to deny its customers some of the most popular TV shows on the air.

As a result, we are sorry to say that for Time Warner Cable customers our networks will go dark as of 12:01 on January 1st, denying Time Warner customers shows like Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, and The Hills.

Ultimately, however, if Nickelodeon, COMEDY CENTRAL, MTV and the rest of our programming is discontinued — over less than a penny per day — we believe viewers will see this behavior by their cable company as outrageous. Time Warner Cable subscribers who are being handed a January 1st $3 monthly increase in Raleigh, Orange County, Los Angeles, and New York City are simultaneously facing the removal of beloved shows across 19 channels.

We find it a shame that Time Warner Cable remains unreasonable at this time. We hope its leadership will have a change of heart and will seek to negotiate a fair renewal agreement. “

See our additional coverage:

Where to Get Your Daily Show Fix and More Online

Time Warner: No Colbert? Count me out

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  1. December 31: What’s Hot on GigaNET Wednesday, December 31, 2008

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  3. Viacom needs to think of the consumers first – Please don’t pull these channels from Time Warner Cable or Brighthouse Networks!
    http://www.floodthelines.com/viacomdontpullchannels/

  4. Looks like I need to start shopping for a new cable company…

  5. I just wrote a THANK YOU note to Time Warner Cable, my cable TV provider, and a GOOD RIDDANCE note to Viacom. I could not be happier that a greedy company with a bad attitude toward their customers like Viacom is being slapped down. I’m actually going to enjoy not having access to their programming, knowing Viacom is being hurt in the process. They are easily the worst of the massive media moguls. If we’re extra lucky this will be the beginning of the end of BIG MEDIA, which has strangled entertainment diversity for decades. Next target: The blithering idiots at the FCC.

  6. what is concerning is that the increase from viacom is 25 cents but the rate a person would get billed for is 3.00. whos the manipulator here. its bad enough that there are so many commercials on now that tv isnt fun to watch any more. they ought to give us the cable for free and let the commercials pay for the programming.
    have you tried to watch a baseball game on tv? about 100 commercials, mostly the same items, and a little bit of a ball game.

  7. In this instance, I think TWC should hold firm. There are many reasons for Viacoms flagging ratings and to think that people will want to pay even more just shows how greedy they have become. This should help lower even more there ad revenue since even more people won’t be watching. Good bye Viacom, you will not be missed.

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  9. I applaude Time Warner for not wanting at this time of ecomonic down fall to charge customers more money. To me it is bad business dealings for Viacom to want to up prices at this time. Although the kids will miss the channels, we will watch on the internet. Hopefully Viacom will come to see that this is a bad deal at this time to up prices.

  10. Where to Get Your Daily Show Fix and More Online Wednesday, December 31, 2008

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