Viacom, Time Warner Cable Strike Deal

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.

Viacom ran ads in newspapers Wednesday with "Dora the Explorer," a popular Nickelodeon star, stating their case. And it planned to run TV ads beginning Thursday if a settlement wasn't reached.

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