Rural operators drop Viacom

Some 60 rural cable operators serving about 900,000 customers throughout the U.S. have ditched Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and other Viacom cable networks in the wake of failed contract negotiations between the operators and programmer. And so far, there has been little backlash from customers over the blackouts. After bracing to lose as many as a 10th of their customers, the operators have lost less than 2 percent of their collective subscribers, according to an industry group that represents the operators, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"Quite frankly, I can't say I did notice," said David Smith. The 64-year-old tire-shop owner in Edinboro, Pa., is a subscriber to the local company, Coaxial Cable Television Corp., told the newspaper.  He said he hadn't watched Viacom channels in at least a dozen years.

But Viacom executives say they aren't worried about the situation either, saying they don't expect any financial fallout from the subscriber losses since it only represents about 1 percent of its total pay TV homes. Several operators have replaced Viacom's programming with other networks. But Viacom has ratcheted up the stakes by denying those cable customers access to the company's online sites, a move that has gained the attention of the FCC. Read more

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