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DirecTV: Viacom's Epix Push Delaying Carriage Renewal

Viacom turned up the heat in its ongoing carriage battle with DirecTV, claiming the satellite giant has been setting up obstacles to an agreement. DirecTV, for its part, maintains that the programmer's insistence it include sparsely carried movie channel Epix in any deal is the main roadblock.
Viacom pulled its 17 networks, including Comedy Central, MTV, BET and Nickelodeon from DirecTV's 20 million customers on July 10 after it could not reach a carriage agreement.

Epix, a joint venture between Viacom's Paramount Pictures movie studio, Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, and Lionsgate formed in 2008, offers theatricals, including the James Bond franchise, sports and event programming It is carried in more than 30 million homes.

DirecTV has cited Viacom's exorbitant rate increase demands - 30% according to their estimates -- which Viacom has claimed amounts to just pennies per day. The fight got increasingly nasty as the days progressed - at one point Viacom blocked access to full episodes of some of its programming online after DirecTV advertised the Internet as an alternative source for its customers during the dispute. The programmer reinstated those shows on July 17.
Viacom's latest salvo came earlier Wednesday on its website, where it claimed that DirecTV "has moved backwards significantly and created more obstacles to reaching an agreement."
DirecTV countered in its own statement that Viacom made a proposal Tuesday night for carriage of all 17 channels, which DirecTV accepted; including an increase the satellite giant said "was more than fair." But it's insistence that Epix be included in the deal has sent them back to the drawing board.
"However, as part of that offer, Viacom insists that we carry the Epix channel at an additional cost of more than half a billion dollars" DirecTV said in a statement. "We know our customers don't want to pay such an extreme price for an extra channel, they simply want the ones they had returned to them. We stand ready and willing to work with Viacom to get this done and, once again, ask Viacom to do the right thing and restore these channels to our customers immediately."