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Rate dispute means loss of channels on Cable One


Nathan Gregory



Stalled contract negotiations between local cable television provider Cable One and a major cable programmer will mean the loss of some popular channels for subscribers. 


It marks the second time in five months, Cable One has reached an impasse with a programming provider. 


Cable One President Tom Might announced Monday that 15 networks owned by Viacom were removed from the provider's lineup amid failure to reach a rate agreement by Monday's contract expiration date. 


Any Cable One subscriber hoping to watch MTV, Nickelodeon or Comedy Central no longer has that option. Other networks affected include BET, Centric, CMT, MTV2, MTV Hits, Nick Jr., Nick Teen, Nick Toons, Spike, TV LAND, VH-1 and VH-1 Classic. 


Might said Cable One asked for a reduced rate due to a decrease in viewers to Viacom's channels while Viacom wanted more money. The company's demands were not realistic, Might said. 


"Despite the fact that viewing is down on 12 of Viacom's networks, some by as much as 30 percent since 2010, Viacom demanded an increase greater than 100 percent to carry all 15 of their channels," Might said. "We asked for a price reduction because of their declining viewership and they refused. We also asked to drop the less popular networks and only carry the networks our customers really watch, and the rate they demanded was even higher. That means we would have to pay more, for fewer channels." 


On Saturday, Viacom spokesperson Carole Robinson pointed the finger at Cable One's negotiating representative, the National Cable Television Cooperative, to renew the agreement. 


"Viacom is committed to serving its audience and has been negotiating tirelessly for months to reach an agreement that will ensure no service interruption of its networks," Robinson said in a press release. "We are simply asking your cable provider for fair value for our networks, which continue to deliver more viewers than any other cable programmer, but cost far less to cable companies." 


Might said Cable One "let these networks go" and expects to add many highly-rated networks customers have been requesting and expand the carriage of others. Those include BBC America, Sprout, The Blaze, Hallmark Channel, National Geographic, Investigation Discovery, TV One and Sundance among others, he said. 


In October, a contract dispute between Cable One and Turner Broadcasting Systems lasted three weeks and resulted in interrupted carriage of nine channels including CNN, TNT and TBS. 


The city of Columbus' 25-year-old contract with Cable One is up for renewal. In January, Greg Fender, a consultant hired by the city to negotiate an updated franchise fee contract with that provider as well as a new one with AT&T, said he hoped to have an agreement between the city and both parties late this month.


Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.



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