Viacom shuts down online access for Cable One subscribers

First, Cable One said it won't pay what Viacom wants for its programming, and removed the channels from its linear lineup. Now, Viacom has said Cable One subscribers can't have access to its online content either, and has erected a blockade to keep them out.

It's difficult to tell who started this brouhaha. Viacom negotiated a new content deal with the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), which buys programming in bulk for member companies like Cable One. Cable One, on March 31, decided it didn't want to pay the negotiated price for the likes of Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV and pulled the channels from its lineup April 1.

While onerous, Cable One's million-or-so subscribers were still able to go online and watch some of the programming that had been removed from their linear channels. Until now … unless, as Viacom is suggesting on its website, they switch to Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) "or try to ask for a refund," a New York Post story said.

The tactic of blocking access to online content isn't used that often, and when it is, it generally enrages consumers used to going to websites to see what they're missing. Last summer, CBS briefly pulled content from Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), and in a rancorous dispute in 2010, Fox pulled access to Hulu shows from Cablevision (NYSE: CVC).

Viacom is succinct in its reasoning.

"Cable One has chosen to no longer carry Viacom programming and, as a result, it is no longer available to Cable One customers in any form," a Viacom spokeswoman told the newspaper.

Cable One did not respond to the newspaper's requests for comment.

For more:
- the New York Post has this story

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