Facing a contract expiration with Viacom at month’s end, Cable One has informed its subscribers that it is prepared to substitute a number of other networks for the programmer’s channels.
Cable One president and CEO Tom Might said if a carriage renewal can’t be reached, the MSO will replace the 15 Viacom channels on its lineup -- BET, Centric, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, MTV2, MTV Hits, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Nick Teen, Nick Toons, Spike, TV Land, VH-1, and VH-1 Classic . The carriage contract concludes on March 31. The operator used a similar tactic in a carriage dispute with Turner Broadcasting last fall.
The 730,000-subcribers MSO had been part of the National Cable Television Cooperative's renewal discussions with Viacom until last week, and is now negotiating with the programming giant separately. NCTC's deal with Viacom, covering some 5.2 million of its members subs, also expires on March 31.
Might said that “in the event that Viacom remains unreasonable, we will let their networks go, in favor of adding many highly rated channels that you have been requesting and expanding the carriage of others, including: BBC America, Sprout, Investigation Discovery, the Blaze, Hallmark Channel, National Geographic, TV One, Sundance, and more.”
Cable One, which is now negotiating se has been keeping its 730,000 subscribers abreast of the situation with information on http://www.stopprogramminghikes.com.
For its part, Viacom said it is"committed to serving its audience and has been negotiating tirelessly for months to reach an agreement that will ensure no service interruption for subscribers of NCTC’s member companies. Unfortunately, NCTC continues to stall our conversations and negotiate in the press rather than work collaboratively toward a compromise. We are simply asking NCTC to pay fair value for our networks, which continue to deliver more viewers than any other cable programming group at a very reasonable price."
Cable One, according to Might, has been negotiating “diligently” with Viacom in recent days: “Despite our best efforts, Viacom is still asking for a rate increase greater than 100% to continue carrying all 15 of their networks, even though the ratings are down since 2010 on 12 of their networks. We asked Viacom to allow us to carry just the channels some of you really watch, and the rate they demanded was even higher. That means we would have to pay more, for fewer channels.
“While we would like to continue our partnership with Viacom,” he continued, “we’ve received your feedback and you don’t want to pay more for networks that you are watching less.”
Viacom countered by saying that the ratings are up for all of its major networks in the first quarter, save for MTV.
Last October, Cable One replaced Turner Broadcasting networks with other channels, before restoring them upon the completion of a new contract later that month.
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