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DirecTV and Viacom struggle in contract dispute

Have you been missing your favorite television show as of late? Florida DirecTV customers may be noticing several channels disappearing from their television lineup this month. The loss stems from a business dispute between DirecTV and Viacom Inc. over fees and channel broadcasting. The companies have yet to come to an agreement, and Viacom has required that DirecTV drop their channels until a resolution is made.

Ironically, the companies have had a contract for the past seven years, in which DirecTV has maintained agreements with every other major distributor in the country. It is said that Viacom has been pushing DirecTV to pay up to 30 percent more for their channels, a nearly $1 billion increase, even with plummeting ratings for the distributor's channels. Viacom insisted that DirecTV either agree to the increase or remove the channels before legal action was taken.

In the end, DirecTV dropped the channels, and more than 270,000 customers in the area have been affected by the fee dispute. DirecTV executives apparently approached Viacom with a new proposal and request to continue broadcasting the dropped channels, but Viacom has yet to respond on the matter.

No one wants to miss their favorite channels. For this reason, customers have already begun complaining over their loss of regular programming. It then raises the stakes for the business entities to resolve their differences as soon as possible, which typically requires the involvement of professionals experienced in handling these often sophisticated negotiations. Hopefully, the companies will work everything out.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "South Florida DirecTV customers lose MTV, Nickelodeon and more," Lisa Richwine Crandell, July 11, 2012

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