Viacom, parent of networks like MTV and Nickelodeon, unveiled TV ads this week asking its watchers to call customer service at cable company Spectrum in advance of a due date that may bring about an expensive blackout for 16.6 million customers.
Viacom wants to run a “crawl” in its network system on Charter informing watchers about TV outlets being disturbed if the tone of its present talks does not change. The current arrangement between Spectrum parent Charter Communications and Viacom lapses on Oct. 15. The approaching due date provoked Viacom to issue an announcement on Wednesday cautioning a potential disturbance since distribution talks between the two organizations have slowed down.
“Viacom has made a series of very attractive offers to Charter that are consistent with terms we’ve recently reached with other large cable operators,” Viacom said in a statement. “Importantly, these offers would enable Charter to lower Spectrum subscribers’ bills while also giving them more access to shows across Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central and other Viacom networks.
Viacom is committed to developing strong, mutually beneficial relationships with our distribution partners. Despite our efforts, Charter continues to insist on unreasonable and extreme terms that are totally inconsistent with the market. While we’re making every effort to reach a new deal, Charter’s actions may force a disruption in their service.”
The dispute with Charter comes at a fragile time for Viacom, which is in the midst of a turnaround plan to enhance ratings and ad revenue underneath CEO Bob Bakish, who assumed his role last year. The two organizations have been squabbling for a considerable amount of time. Charter made the decision to shift Viacom-owned networks like Spike, MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central to a higher-priced stage in May. In August, Viacom’s Bakish told financial specialists the organizations were far separated on the issue.
“They don’t have the contractual right to tier our services the way they have,” Bakish said during a conference call. “I don’t fundamentally believe suing big customers is the way to solve problems. The better way to solve them is through engagement and exploring ways we can create value together.”
Viacom finds some of Charter’s present requests difficult, someone with knowledge of the discussions said. Charter, this individual stated, decided to shield Viacom from participating in alleged “skinny bundle” packages that would make a smaller number of TV networks accessible to purchasers hoping to pay less for straight content. A representative for Charter declined to comment.