Time Warner, Viacom reach deal in principle over fees dispute
AFP - 1 hour 29 minutes ago
WASHINGTON (AFP) - - Millions of subscribers to the Time Warner Cable television network kept their favorite shows into the new year Thursday after an agreement in principle on rights fees was reached in a bitter dispute with entertainment giant Viacom Inc.
Viacom had threatened to pull Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, VH1 and 15 other channels from Time Warner and its 13.3 million subscribers at 12:01 am (0501 GMT) Thursday if the deal had not been reached.
The companies said they expect to finalize the agreement details over the next several days.
Glenn Britt, president and chief executive of Time Warner Cable, the second largest US cable network, apologized to subscribers for the public disagreement, and said he was "pleased (subscribers) will continue to be able to watch the programming they enjoy on MTV Networks."
Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman described the agreement as "gratifying" and said the deal "benefits not only our audiences but ... is also in the best interest of both of our companies."
The dispute had flared in public on Wednesday after Viacom published a full-page advertisement in The New York Times and other newspapers showing "Dora the Explorer," the star of its popular Nickelodeon cartoon, shedding a tear.
"Why is Dora crying?" the ad asked before answering its own question. "Time Warner Cable is taking Dora off the air tonight!"
Britt quickly shot back, saying "Christmas is over, but Viacom is still playing Scrooge, threatening to pull its MTV Networks off of Time Warner Cable at midnight tonight unless we ask our customers to pay exorbitant price increases."
Britt accused Viacom, which owns owns Paramount Pictures, the MTV and BET networks, Comedy Central and other properties, of "trying to extort another 39 million dollars annually" from Time Warner customers.
Viacom had maintained the deal it was seeking was "reasonable and modest relative to the profits Time Warner Cable enjoys from our networks."
It said it was asking for an increase of "less than 25 cents per month, per subscriber, which adds up to less than a penny per day for all 19 of MTV Networks' channels."
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The Time Warner company headquarters in New York. Millions of subscribers to the Time Warner Cable television network kept their favorite shows into the new year Thursday after an agreement in principle on rights fees was reached in a bitter dispute with entertainment giant Viacom Inc.
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