Viacom responds to Cable One blackout
by Paisley Boston
Apr 04, 2014 | 7209 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Viacom is pushing back on the recent Cable One blackout of its network channels by saying the allegations made by Cable One are false.

In a previous interview with Cable One Public Relations Manager Trish Niemann, she said Viacom demanded a rate increase greater than 100 percent to continue carrying all 15 of its networks, even though the ratings have been down since 2010 on 12 of their networks but according to Viacom Spokesperson Mark Jafar those allegations are not true.

"Ratings can be sliced different ways to tell different stories. All of our ratings are up which is pretty remarkable because television ratings are fickle things — sometimes they can be up and sometimes they are down," said Jafar.

"Ratings on our networks are not down. I am not sure where Cable One got their numbers from but it is not true. I noticed that they did not really bother to source their information. The ratings of 12 of our 15 networks are actually up in the current quarter," he added.

"In the period for January to March almost all of our networks are up in their ratings. I think Cable One has found or sliced some information," continued Jafar.

Viacom's media networks, includes MTV, VH1, CMT, Logo, BET, CENTRIC, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., TeenNick, Nicktoons, Nick at Nite, Comedy Central, TV Land, SPIKE, Tr3s, Paramount Channel and VIVA.

"We did not request a 100 percent rate increase. We had been sending Cable One proposals since January. We have sent Cable One a number of proposals and they did not respond with their own proposals," said Jafar.

In a press release, Cable One President and CEO Tom Might said Cable One asked Viacom to drop the less popular networks and only carry the networks that its customers watched.

"They did not want to buy our channels individually or take the whole package so unfortunately we are in the position that we are in and they have pulled all of our channels," said Jafar.

"Cable One may have expressed interest in carrying just a few of our networks and certainly we are always open to that option. Like any other business in the world we offer volume discounts — if you buy just one of our networks it is going to be more expensive than it is if you buy all 15 or 25 of our channels," he added.

"They never really showed any kind of truthful effort to really get something done with us. I think they had always planned to take our networks down. The whole thing is fairly unfortunate and totally unnecessary and it all could have been avoided," he added.

According to Jafar, Cable One’s decision to drop Viacom networks fits the company’s familiar pattern of disregard for its customers.

Jafar said this is Cable One’s second blackout of a major cable programmer in six months.

In October 2013, Cable One dropped Turner Broadcasting channels until its contract had be renegotiated.

"Cable One is the only major cable operator in the United States that chose not to provide its customers with Video On Demand," said Jafar.

"It also does not provide its customers with TV everywhere. Unsurprisingly, Cable One has lost at least 25,000 customers since its most recent blackout and more than 80,000 customers in the past two years," he continued.

Niemann said the majority of Cable One's customers have been very supportive throughout these negotiations based on the comments received on a Cable One website.

"Cable One claims that its customers support this blackout, but one need look no further than Cable One’s own Facebook page or Twitter to see that this is simply not true," said Jafar.

"Cable One is part of the NCTC and typically Cable One would have been a part of the NCTC (deal) that we struck and as of Tuesday we did come to a new agreement with NCTC," he added.

"We had been negotiating our contract with NCTC and they represent more than 800 smaller cable television companies around the company. NCTC negotiates on behalf of all of the smaller cable companies to do one big blanket deal with us," said Jafar.

Jafar said all 800-cable operators across the country agreed to renew their contracts with Viacom and Cable One was the only company that decided to reject the deal.

"All of these companies basically said ‘O.K.’ and negotiated with us productively to find a compromise and a fair deal. We found a fair deal but Cable One said ‘No’ and decided to take our networks off the air," continued Jafar.

"Cable One has at least 730,000 subscribers across the country that are without 15 of our channels," he continued.

"Cable One is saying that they have no intention to bring our networks back and they have slotted other networks into the positions that we previously had on their service," said Jafar.

"We remain hopeful that Cable One will do right by its paying customers. However, Cable One refused to engage with Viacom productively throughout our entire NCTC negotiation, choosing instead to delay conversations and push falsehoods on the press," he added.

According to Jafar in its most recent blackout, Cable One kept a major cable programmer off the air for 25 days. 

"We ask Cable One subscribers to call their cable company and demand the Viacom channels for which they’ve paid," said Jafar.