UPDATE - 9AM, 1/1/09
No surprise... According to Variety,
Viacom, Time Warner Cable strike dealAs I said, no surprise... there was too much at stake for a deal not to be reached. Everyone's happy... for now anyway...
After running past the initial midnight deadline and into 2009, Viacom and Time Warner Cable reached a tentative deal to keep MTV Networks' 19 channels on the MSO's 13.3 million households nationwide.
Although Viacom threatened to shut off the signal in Time Warner Cable's markets of New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, Viacom granted a one-hour extension just before midnight ET Wednesday and the two sides announced they'd reached an agreement in principle soon afterward. The move avoided the looming blackout of MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, among other channels.
In a joint release, Viacom and TWC said they expected to finalize the details of the agreement over the next several days.
"We are pleased that our customers will continue to be able to watch the programming they enjoy on MTV Networks," TWC's president and CEO Glenn Britt said. "We are sorry they had to endure a day of public disagreement as we worked through this negotiation."
Viacom's president and CEO Philippe Dauman stressed the company's long relationship with TWC.
"We're happy to be renewing that partnership for the benefit of their customers and our loyal viewers," he said. "It's gratifying that we could reach an agreement that benefits not only our audiences but that is also in the best interest of both of our companies." The agreement followed a last-minute offer by TWC on Wednesday that was rejected by Viacom, which qualified it as "a pittance."
Viacom had been seeking about a 12% fee increase, or $39 million on top of the estimated $300 million it is paid by TWC every year. TWC had said it was no time, given the economy, to raise subscriber fees that would have to be passed on to consumers.
UPDATE - 2PM, 12/31
Time Warner retaliates, responding to Viacom's initial statement, and scrolling warning messages on subscriber television screens earlier today... releasing the following statement. It's like little kids having an argument (where's a grown-up when you need one):
Christmas is over, but Viacom is still playing Scrooge, threatening to pull its MTV Networks off of Time Warner Cable at midnight tonight unless we ask our customers to pay exorbitant price increases.Story continues below...
Viacom claims their demands equate to “pennies,” but that is misleading and insulting to our customers, from whom Viacom is trying to extort another $39 million annually – on top of the hundreds of millions of dollars our customers already pay to Viacom each year. That doesn’t sound like pennies to us. Demanding that our customers pay so much more for these few networks would be unreasonable in any economy, but it is particularly outrageous given the current economic conditions.
We sympathize with the fact that Viacom’s advertising business is suffering and that their networks’ ratings have largely been declining. However, we can’t abide their attempt to make up their lost revenue on the backs of Time Warner Cable customers. We’ve negotiated in good faith and made several concessions to help reach a fair and reasonable deal. We’ve asked for an extension of the current contract while we continue to negotiate. But Viacom doesn’t appear to be interested in what’s fair and reasonable for American consumers – they’re only interested in propping up their sagging bottom line, and they are poised to pull their networks from Time Warner Cable customers tonight.
Huge price increases like what Viacom is demanding threaten the ultimate value of cable TV. Time Warner Cable is a retail distributor of products we purchase wholesale. Wholesale programming costs are rising dramatically every year, and, like all multichannel distributors, we have to pass on at least a portion of the increases to our customers. Viacom’s MTV Networks are just a few of the hundreds of channels we carry. If every channel demanded huge, double-digit increases like what Viacom is trying to force our customers to pay, it would be impossible to keep the price of cable reasonable for our customers.
Time Warner Cable has reached hundreds of distribution agreements with other networks. In fact, we currently have deals with every other cable programmer. The negotiations aren’t always easy, but we work hard to reach agreements that are fair to our customers and to both businesses.
We hope Viacom won’t pull the MTV Networks from Time Warner Cable customers, and we’ll negotiate up to the last possible minute and beyond. But ultimately, it is Viacom’s decision. We implore them to join with us to reach a fair resolution or grant an extension, and we hope they won’t carry through with their threat to take their networks away from our customers tonight.
UPDATE - 11AM, 12/31
According to Deadline Hollywood Daily,
It appears Time Warner Cable customer service was unprepared for the onslaught of complaints from subscribers flooding into call centers. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many reps were unaware of the dispute with Viacom, which began running news crawls below its programming that 19 channels would go dark on the cable system operation at 12:01 AM on January 1st. Viacom also placed full-page advertisements in some major market newspapers today featuring protests by its media programming characters, including Dora the Explorer who is shown crying because she is being taken away from her fans. The cable company says it is prepared to refund customers for the lost programming if a deal can't be reached by New Year's, though the amount hasn’t been determined yet.Story continues below...
UPDATE - 1:55AM, 12/31
I'm watching SPIKE TV (a Viacom channel) at the moment, and for the last several minutes, a warning message (obviously sponsored by Viacom) has been scrolling at the bottom of my TV screen, instructing Time Warner Cable subscribers to call their local Time Warner Cable offices ASAP, and demand that they keep all 19 Viacom channels as mentioned in the press release below. I'm sure the same message is on display in every city in which Time Warner has a subscriber base.
INITIAL POST - 9PM, 12/30
I just read this over at Deadline Hollywood Daily.
I'm sure a deal will eventually be reached! There's too much at stake!
However, as it stands currently, per the Viacom press release below, at 12:01AM on January 1st, 2009, all Time Warner cable subscribers, across the USA, will lose all Viacom owned cable TV stations - and that includes, MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, and Nickelodeon, amongst many others - all prime small screen real estate! I don't watch any of those channels, so even if I was a Time Warner Cable subscriber, I wouldn't think much of the loss - other than the fact that I'd still be paying my regular fee despite having 19 fewer channels, which obviously wouldn't go over well with me!
However, I do catch clips of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart online, from time to time.
Here's the just-issued statement from Viacom. Of course it's all about money. Viacom wants more from Time Warner, but Time Warner doesn't want to give:
This move by Time Warner Cable to force such channels as Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV off the air is another example of a cable company overreaching for profit at the expense of its viewers.
The renewal we are seeking is reasonable and modest relative to the profits TWC enjoys from our networks. We have asked for an increase of less than 25 cents per month, per subscriber, which adds up to less than a penny per day for all 19 of MTV Networks’ channels. We make this request because TWC has so greatly undervalued our channels for so long. Americans spend more than 20% of their TV viewing time watching our networks, yet our fees amount to less than 2.5% of what Time Warner generates from their average customer.
Throughout the country, we have negotiated equitable license agreement renewals, or are in the final stages of renewals, with virtually every cable and satellite carrier. Nevertheless, Time Warner Cable has dismissed our efforts at a fair compromise and has effectively chosen to deny its customers some of the most popular TV shows on the air.
As a result, we are sorry to say that for Time Warner Cable customers our networks will go dark as of 12:01 on January 1st, denying Time Warner customers shows like Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, and The Hills.
Ultimately, however, if Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV and the rest of our programming is discontinued – over less than a penny per day - we believe viewers will see this behavior by their cable company as outrageous.
Time Warner Cable subscribers who are being handed a January 1st $3 monthly increase in Raleigh, Orange County, Los Angeles, and New York City are simultaneously facing the removal of beloved shows across 19 channels.
We find it a shame that Time Warner Cable remains unreasonable at this time. We hope its leadership will have a change of heart and will seek to negotiate a fair renewal agreement.
Any Time Warner Cable subscribers out there? If this does occur as stated, on January 1, I'm guessing Time Warner's customer service lines will be immensely busy that day, and beyond. But, as I said at the top, I'm sure a deal will be worked out - if not by tomorrow, then, sometime soon thereafter!
I'll keep you updated...
via DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD DAILY