Viacom Networks Remain on Dish as Talks Continue

Viacom’s networks stayed on Dish Network after midnight, when an extension of the distribution agreement between the companies was set to expire.

Sources indicated that talks continued and that a resolution was in sight.

Losing distribution to Dish’s 13 million subscribers could be devastating for Viacom by cutting into sub fees and advertising revenue. That possibility is one reason why Viacom’s stock has been one of the worst performers on Wall Street among media companies.

On Dish’s first quarter earnings call, chairman Charlie Ergen said he was more hopeful a deal with Viacom could get done.

“Last week I would say my impression was I didn't see a path with Viacom. I think that the tone on both sides, both Viacom and at Dish, has been more productive through the weekend and this week, so there actually probably is a path to continue carriage, but it's not done yet. And obviously the devil’s in the details,” Ergen said.

Ergen said Dish would prefer not to lose Viacom’s networks.

“We would always overpay a little bit for content because of the disruption. But we wouldn't overpay astronomically to avoid the disruption because long term we would be in a stronger position than our competitors because we wouldn't have to raise prices to our consumers long term. Anything you do as a takedown is short term in nature if it is not the right deal,” he said.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.