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Viacom channels go dark for DirecTV customers

7:48 AM, Jul 12, 2012   |    comments
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(CBS News) Viacom channels went dark at midnight Tuesday for DirecTV subscribers after the two companies failed to agree on new programming fees.

DirecTV and Viacom are at odds over carriage fees for such cable channels as Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, BET, VH1 and Spike.

Their seven-year contract expired last weekend, and both sides have failed to find a desirable middle ground. The companies continue to update customers about the dispute via online statements and blog posts. DirecTV has 20 million subscribers affected by the dispute.

On Tuesday, DirecTV released a statement on its website, explaining: "Viacom has spent the day trying to convince the public that DIRECTV is willingly removing channels like MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, TV Land and Spike from our customers' homes tonight at midnight."

In a blog post late Tuesday, Viacom stated: "DirecTV is throwing around some big numbers that are misleading. Here's the truth: Viacom is asking DirecTV for an increase of a couple of pennies per day per subscriber. That's far less than DirecTV pays other programmers with fewer viewers than Viacom. Viacom has always been open to negotiating and hopes to get a deal done."

The battle shines a light on the tensions between content companies and cable distributors over fees and programming as competition from other content media, such as online video and Netflix, grows.

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