handshakeRural cable operators have succeeded in avoiding a Viacom blackout. Viacom and the National Cable Television Cooperative announced late today that they have reached agreement on the terms of a new contract.

The NCTC handles negotiations with Viacom and other content providers on behalf of more than 800 small cable companies who are members of the American Cable Association. Viacom provides several popular cable channels, including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, Spike TV and others.

The agreement was reached after a previous contract between the two organizations expired at 11:59 p.m. yesterday. Terms of the new agreement were not disclosed.

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Some ACA members initially argued that the prices Viacom was seeking were too high  and had been bracing themselves for the possibility that Viacom might pull its content when the deadline for a new contract passed. Pulling content is a step that the content provider has taken in the past. But Viacom held off on taking that step today while the two sides continued to negotiate.

In an announcement of the contract renewal issued jointly with NCTC, Viacom Executive Vice President of Content Distribution and Marketing Denise Denson commended NCTC for “collaborating with Viacom to reach a fair deal that puts viewers first.”

Reportedly Viacom did pull its content today from at least one small cable company that does not negotiate with Viacom through the NCTC but whose contract expired at the same time..htm Viacom has not said whether it has reached agreement with that company or any other small cablecos with whom it negotiates directly.

Based on comments made by NCTC Executive Vice President of Programming Judy Meyka in today’s announcement, it appears that TV Everywhere  is an element of the new contract. Meyka said NCTC is “pleased to have reached an agreement that will provide opportunities for our members to distribute their content over multiple platforms.”

Today’s announcement did not state whether Viacom made any concessions on its policy of requiring cable companies to take programming bundles rather than allowing them to pick and choose cable channels. Mandatory bundling has been unpopular with cable operators but Viacom has made few, if any, exceptions on that requirement.

Bundling will face an important test when Viacom faces off with cable operator Cablevision in connection with Cablevision’s legal challenge to bundling requirements.

 

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9 thoughts on “Viacom NCTC Deal Reached, Avoiding Rural Cable Blackout

  1. I'll be willing to bet anything that Viacom did not make any concessions. They have long demanded that cable systems of any size carry ALL their channels. Want to carry just VH1 because your market skewers older in population? Nope, you have to carry EVERY mainstream Viacom channel (MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, TV Land, and Spike) on the VHF lower channel bands, plus ALL their digital channels (MTV2, MTV Jams, VH1 Soul, Nicktoons, etc etc).

  2. The practice extends into the arena of retransmission consent involving local broadcast channels. A few years ago during a round of negotiations with Hearst-Argyle, who owned our local ABC affiliate, one of the provisions for their allowing us to carry (and pay for) that station, they required us to carry Lifetime on a lower VHF channel, plus carry Lifetime Real Women and Lifetime Movie network, both of those at an additional cost of course. The same practice occurs with other station/satellite channel ownership groups. The NCTC and ACA have petitioned the FCC for relief from these practices, but so far there hasn't been much.

  3. I know which cable company lost Viacom service,it had to be Otelco since all the above mentioned channels are gone from my lineup.I know our cable provider is small and their choice of channels the carry are terrible and the price for cable is expensive(more that either satellite provider).

    I am now reconsidering going back to satellite or over the air TV to see a significant savings,it has gotten to the point a small independent cable provider will not stand a chance with the big companies and it will be only a matter of time before a big name cable provider comes in and buys them out.

  4. Your small carrier will probably just face away or switch their emphases. That's what we did, we dropped all satellite programming completely, now offer only off-air channels and internet service. Dish and DirecTV can have the satellite programming and deal with all those programmers. We carry off-airs that they don't, plus we carry ALL the sub-channels on their digital feeds. Smartest thing we have ever done. The money is now in internet service, we bought the fattest fiber optic pipe we could afford and are doing just fine.

  5. So you're only doing a lifeline line-up, or literally, you're just doing locals? Are you still using a STB or are you just hooking up off air antennas at each customer?

  6. Off-airs are carried 2 per 6 MHz channel via Drake DQT-1000’s, which preserve the subchannels, and we carry CatholicTV, EWTN, RFD-HD, FamilyNetHD, QVC-HD, and SportsmanHD, satellite channels that are either very cheap or free and of high interest to our customers. That gives a total of 40 channels in all, plus cable modem internet service, carried on VHF 2-13, so no worries about aircraft frequencies, etc.

  7. We carry every off-air we can receive, 2 per 6 MHz channel, via Drake DQT-1000's which preserve all the subchannels, plus RFD-HD, FamilyNet-HD, EWTN, CatholicTV, QVC-HD, and Sportsman-HD, just those satellite services that are very popular to our customers. It gives a total of 40 channels that any current television can scan/tune out of the box, no converters, all carried on the system on channels 2-13, so no worries about aircraft frequencies.

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