If a Monday report in the New York Times is any indicator, Viacom appears to be failing in its quest to spur government intervention in a carriage stalemate with Suddenlink that has kept Viacom channels off the MSO since October.
In an interview with the Times, Eric Rouse, one of seven county commissioners in rural Lenoir County in North Carolina, recounts how he was approached by Viacom lobbyists but ultimately decided not to get involved in the dispute.
The move shows how politicians are become increasingly reluctant to stick their noses into disputes between pay-TV operators and programmers, viewing them as business disputes rather than violations of public trust.
Rouse had received the following email from the government-relations team at the Smith Anderson law firm in Raleigh, which had been contracted by Viacom: "We're eager to talk with you at your earliest convenience about how we might be able to help you reverse Suddenlink's unpopular and unnecessary move."
The email called the hodgepodge of independent channels acquired by Suddenlink to replace the Viacom networks "inferior."
The NYT article describes Rouse as initially motivated, given the affinity of his two young children for Viacom's Nickelodeon network. However, upon investigating the issue, he elected not to intervene, believing the matter to be simply a business decision made by Suddenlink. Rouse was further of the opinion that consumers have access to Viacom channels on alternative platforms such as satellite TV.
"Nobody wants to pay more, but they want all the services," Rouse said. "It is a balancing act."
- read this New York Times story
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Suddenlink adds another non-Viacom network, Sony Movie Channel
Doing the math on Suddenlink's decision to kick out Viacom: A good call by the cable company