LAS VEGAS - The long-anticipated carriage battle between Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) and Viacom is officially a thing.
Viacom has begun to warn Dish subscribers that they'll soon lose access to channels including Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, VH1, MTV, BET, Spike, TV Land and CMT if a renewal to a current carriage agreement, which expires Wednesday night, isn't made.
Viacom also set up a web page to explain its side of the impasse.
"We are extremely disappointed that Dish has not engaged in a serious way to reach an agreement for Viacom's number one family of cable networks, including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, VH1, MTV, BET, Spike, TV Land and CMT," Viacom said in a statement. "This is par for the course for Dish, which has deliberately derailed 10 renewal negotiations since last year by engaging in unproductive discussions and contentious public battles."
The conglomerate's stock cratered 8 percent after it began running its crawls.
"We regret that Viacom has chosen to involve customers in a business negotiation when time remains to reach an agreement. Viacom unilaterally elected to terminate an indefinite contract extension tomorrow night despite meaningful progress on a new agreement that confronts a rapidly evolving pay-TV environment. Viacom is asking for hundreds of millions of dollars in increases, despite the changing landscape that includes drastically reduced viewership of Viacom channels and wide availability of their content across multiple platforms, frustrating consumers who don't want to pay twice for the same content. Dish will continue to negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement that works for both sides," Dish said in a statement.
Viacom has most of the major pay-TV conglomerates signed to long-term carriage agreements. But it has lost carriage on small and mid-sized cable operators including Cable One and Suddenlink.
With Dish drawing a hard line in negotiations in recent years, and Viacom suffering from declining audience usage on its linear channels, media analysts have forecast a showdown between the two companies for more than a year.
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