Viacom channels off TW Cable in dispute

Time Warner Cable subscribers may not have Viacom channels, including Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, VH1 and 15 other networks for the New Year as they are set to go dark as part of a license agreement renewal dispute between the two companies.

Viacom asked Time Warner Cable for an increase of just under 25 cents per subscriber per month for carrying its 19 channels. The company justified the increase by saying its channels have been undervalued by Time Warner Cable. “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,” said a Viacom statement.

In what is becoming a larger source of contention between MSOs and cable networks, Time Warner Cable cited the ubiquity of Viacom shows online as a reason for not valuing the networks as highly. Shows such as The Hills and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart are available in full for free online.

“Given our audiences, digital is a great compliment to the linear, but in no way is it a replacement,” said an MTV Networks spokesperson. “In fact, we’ve seen linear ratings increase across our networks as online usage has increased. We understand this is a sensitive issue for our affiliates and we have been exploring authentication technology to further reinforce our commitment to partnership.”

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