DirecTV blacks out Viacom channels after dispute

After having failed to strike a deal with Viacom, parent of several popular cable channels, including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and VH1, DirecTV, which has almost 20 million subscribers is no longer carrying the media giant's networks.

Both sides though, blamed each other for the channel black out Tuesday evening. According to Viacom, DirecTV dropped the channels without warning, while DirecTV said it was forced to take action by Viacom.

''DirecTV executives reached out to Viacom both yesterday and today with a new proposal and a request to keep the channels on while we continued to negotiate, but never heard back, so DirecTV had to comply with their demand to take the channels down or face legal action,'' the company said in a statement.

Executive vice president of content, DirecTV, Derek Chang said Viacom was ''pushing DirecTV customers to pay more than a 30 per cent increase, which equated to an extra $1 billion'' for its channels. Chang went on to add that those increases were being sought ''despite the fact that the ratings for many of their main networks have plummeted and much of Viacom's programming can be seen for free online.''

Viacom maintains, it ''proposed a fair deal that amounted to an increase of only a couple pennies per day, per subscriber'' and hoped, ''DirecTV will work with us toward a resolution, and stop denying its subscribers access to the networks they watch most.''

Though feuds between programmers and distributors over rates are not uncommon instances of channels being taken off the service are rare. According to analysts DirecTV ran the risk of losing subscribers and Viacom ratings would take a hit from the loss of distribution.