DirecTV has yanked off seventeen Viacom-owned channels as negotiations between the two companies failed to reach a deal. On Tuesday, July 10, just before midnight Eastern, such cable channels as Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, BET, VH1 and CMT went dark on DirecTV.
Claiming that DirecTV "dropped the channels without giving Viacom advanced warning," Viacom said through a representative, "We are deeply disappointed that DirecTV dropped Viacom's channels before our midnight deadline this evening, severing our connection with its nearly 20 million subscribers nationwide." The two companies' last contact was at 11 A.M. on Tuesday.
"We proposed a fair deal that amounted to an increase of only a couple pennies per day, per subscriber, and we remained willing to negotiate that deal right up to this evening's deadline. However, DirecTV refused to engage in meaningful conversation. We are hopeful that DirecTV will work with us toward a resolution, and stop denying its subscribers access to the networks they watch most."
DirecTV, on the other hand, blamed Viacom and its demand for a carriage fee increase of more than 30% for the blackout. "We have been very willing to get a deal done, but Viacom is pushing DirecTV customers to pay more than a 30 percent increase, which equates to an extra $1 billion, despite the fact that the ratings for many of their main networks have plummeted and much of Viacom's programming can be seen for free online," said Derek Chang, DirecTV executive vp content, strategy and development.
"Viacom sent us a letter [Monday] night that outlined our obligations to remove the channels by midnight or face legal action just as they were falsely telling viewers DirecTV was responsible. Let's be clear, Viacom took these channels away from DirecTV viewers," Chang stated, adding that they reached out to Viacom with a "new proposal and a request to keep the channels on while we continued to negotiate, but never heard back."
Prior to the blackout, Viacom posted a video that parodied DirecTV ad on YouTube. Compiling footage from shows like "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "South Park", the mass media company suggested what would happen if the broadcast satellite service provider dropped Viacom-owned channels, while urging viewers to launch a petition to keep their "favorite channels" on DirecTV.