Dish, Viacom Reach New Programming-Fee Deal Averting TV Blackout

Keeps Networks Like Nickelodeon and Comedy Central on Air

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Dish CEO Charlie Ergen
Dish CEO Charlie Ergen Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Dish Network Corp. and Viacom have reached an agreement on new payment terms that will keep Viacom channels like Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon on the satellite-TV service.

The companies came together on a deal after an extended negotiation, according to a Viacom statement. The agreement picks up where the last seven-year contract left off and averts a threatened blackout of Viacom channels on Dish's pay-TV network, which has about 14 million U.S. subscribers.

Disputes between pay-TV providers and media companies over subscriber fees have intensified in recent years. Program suppliers seek higher carriage fees to offset rising production costs and sluggish ad revenue. TV distributors like Dish have been battling rising content costs that drive customer bills higher and push subscriber to cheaper alternatives like streaming videos from Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.

In its threat to pull its channels, New York-based Viacom said its shows account for about 20% of viewership on Dish and that the satellite service would suffer more customer losses as viewers find the programs on other outlets.

Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said Wednesday that he saw a path to an agreement and threatened to black out Viacom channels permanently if a deal wasn't reached.

-- Bloomberg News

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