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Viacom Fires Back at Cable One over Carriage Disconnect

Viacom, having just completed a renewal deal with the National Cable Television Cooperative, took some shots at Cable One, which is presently not offering its networks.

Cable One, an NCTC member, elected to negotiate on its own with Viacom. With the parties' carriage contract expiring on March 31, Cable One, which said that Viacom forced it to remove 15 networks, is moving to replace the services with other channels.

Viacom, on Tuesday night, said it wasn't negotiating with the 730,000-subscriber MSO and that it was the operator that made the call on the blackout.

“Cable One’s decision to drop our networks fits the company’s familiar pattern of disregard for its customers. This is Cable One’s second blackout of a major cable programmer in six months,” said Viacom in a statement, a reference to the MSO’s disconnect with Turner Broadcasting last October. “Cable One is the only major cable operator in the United States not to provide its customers with video on demand.  It also does not provide its customers with TV Everywhere.  Unsurprisingly, Cable One has lost at least 25,000 customers since its most recent blackout and more than 80,000 customers in the past two years.”

Viacom’s new master contract with the NCTC covers VOD and TVE rights.

Cable One could not be reached for comment by press time last night.

Early this morning, the MSO, in announcing that it was not carrying the Viacom services, said the programmer was seeking an “increase greater than 100 percent to carry all 15 of their channels,” and that a dozen of them had sustained ratings erosion.

Viacom countered on Tuesday night by saying it "attracts the greatest share of viewing of any cable programmer.  According to Nielsen, at any given time, one out of every five cable viewers under the age of 50 is watching a Viacom network.  In the quarter ended March 31, ratings at 13 of our 15 networks carried by Cable One were up on a year-over-year basis.”

At press time, 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 were not being carried on Cable One systems. The operator plans to make substitutions with networks such as BBC America, Sprout, The Blaze, Hallmark Channel, National Geographic, Investigation Discovery, TV One and SundanceTV.

Cable One, after replacing Turner Broadcasting networks with other channels, reached a deal in late October that restored the operator’s carriage of CNN, CNN en Espanol, HLN, Turner Classic Movies, TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network, truTV, and Boomerang.

Viacom said that it remains “hopeful that Cable One will do right by its paying customers and work with us to reach a fair deal. However, Cable One refused to engage with Viacom productively throughout our entire NCTC negotiation, choosing instead to delay conversations and push falsehoods on the press.  And, in its most recent blackout, Cable One kept a major cable programmer off the air for 25 days.  We ask Cable One subscribers to call their cable company and demand the Viacom channels for which they’ve paid.”