With 20 million subscribers, DirecTV is largest satellite television provider in the United States. That kind of number explains the massive outpour of discontent with a dispute on the internet today as Viacom ordered DirecTV to pull all of their channels off of the air at 12 a.m. Wednesday morning.
This stems from a disagreement between the two companies attempting to settle on a programming fee for DirecTV customers.
Viacom was looking into charging DirecTV customers 30% more for the channels – which include MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon – than they were already paying. As DirecTV CEO Mike White explained in a public announcement, this increase demanded by Viacom would have meant customers collectively pay a total of $1 billion.
Derek Chang, a DirecTV executive told the Washington Post that DirecTV was willing to make some increases to the rate, but not at the level that Viacom was looking for.
On top of the fiscal issue, there is also an exchange about the morality of customer choice versus ease of company function. For one, customers who use DirecTV get all types of channels to choose from, and the payments that they make make this a possibility.
In light of this battle, DirecTV has openly stated that they believe the customer should have the right to choose only what they want. Such dialogue has often been engaged when it comes to all types of cable internet bundles – not just TV. In reaction, Viacom has claimed that this would make it difficult for distributors to maintain.
Viacom has also made the claim that their channels make up a share of 20 percent of what is viewed on DirecTV, while the television supplier has said that the ratings of Viacom ratings have declined lately.
Few battles between two companies often get this public, with both sides posting new material on their websites and blogs. The public has been engaging in much discussion today about the growing awareness of their rights to have what they want in their cable packages. White is aware that customers often express that they wish for more tailored channel choices, but also reminded that no media company is ready to take on that kind of demand.
Talks will continue between the two companies, but when an agreement is settled upon is unclear. For now, the Viacom channel that went black overnight have replaced with other channels until a new arrangement has been set up.
About the Contributor – Mike Lamardo is a technology, music industry and entertainment blogger out of Raleigh, North Carolina. He contributes critiques of music and culture for ZME Music, among other blogs.