Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania


July 20, 2012

After a nine-day blackout, Viacom Inc. and DirecTV Group Inc. reached a long-term deal early Friday to restore Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV and other Viacom channels to DirecTV's satellite systems.

The companies didn't disclose financial terms of the agreement. DirecTV had previously said that Viacom was asking for a 30% increase in fees, while Viacom said it was just asking for a fair deal. DirecTV was able to negotiate a lower increase than what Viacom had sought, according to a person familiar with the situation. The deal has a seven-year term. The two sides were negotiating all of Thursday night into the early hours of Friday morning, according to a person familiar with the matter, because both sides were anxious to get a deal done. Viacom's channels had suffered sharp ratings declines during the dispute, while DirecTV saw some subscriber defections.

"Viacom is extremely pleased to bring its programming back to DirecTV subscribers, and thanks everyone affected by the disruption for their patience and understanding during this challenging period," Viacom said in a statement. "The attention surrounding this unnecessary and ill-advised blackout by Viacom has accomplished one key thing: it serves notice to all media companies that bullying TV providers and their customers with blackouts won't get them a better deal." said Derek Chang, executive vice president of content strategy and development for DirecTV, in a statement. "It's high time programmers ended these anti-consumer blackouts once and for all and prove our industry is about enabling people to connect to their favorite programs rather than denying them access."

As part of the deal, DirecTV negotiated expansive rights to carry Viacom programming online through a platform that requires its subscribers to sign in to watch-part of an industrywide effort called "TV Everywhere." The new agreement doesn't require DirecTV to carry the Epix movie channel, DirecTV said in its statement. The company had said Wednesday that Viacom's demand that the channel-which Viacom partly owns-be included in DirecTV's lineup was impeding progress toward a deal. Viacom had countered at the time that it had offered DirecTV deals with and without Epix.

Under the deal, DirecTV has an option to carry Epix under prenegotiated terms, according to another person familiar with the situation. Also late Thursday night, Time Warner Cable Inc. came to an agreement with Hearst Corp. to carry 15 broadcast stations affiliated with broadcast networks like ABC, NBC and CBS in 12 markets, where the programming had been blacked out since early last week in a dispute over fees. Wall Street Journal

Tom Smith, the former coal-company owner from western Pennsylvania, was a financial juggernaut in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate earlier this year. Nobody could best the self-funding millionaire, not even Gov. Corbett's party-backed candidate. Smith is pretty modest about his money, telling us Thursday that he "put some money in at the beginning to get things started." By "some money," Smith means just shy of $5 million. He gave an additional $1.5 million of his own money after the primary, bringing his investment in the race to $6,475,000. Smith's campaign has $2.2 million in the bank as of June 30 to challenge U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. in the general election, campaign-finance reports filed Sunday show. Casey has $6.2 million on hand.

Smith tells us he's hoping to raise enough to stay competitive. He's proud 3,500 people have given him money. "It's going very well," Smith said. "But I will say that if we run a little short, the well is not dry." We wondered how deep that well might be. Given that Mitt Romney is getting bashed for not releasing more of his tax returns, would Smith make his financial records public? "You know, I've never been asked that question," Smith said before saying he would consider releasing his tax returns. "I never thought anyone would ask." Philadelphia Daily News