Contract negotiations cost Miami DirecTV subscribers access to Viacom networks

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

Why have 20 million DirecTV customers, including those in Miami, suddenly lost access to popular channels like Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central? Blame a case of contract dispute.

Those three stations are among those supplied to DirecTV by media giant Viacom. When Viacom and DirecTV began negotiating to renew their agreement, Viacom reportedly wanted $1 billion more than it got last time. DirecTV declined and offered “significantly less than that.” That didn’t sit well with Viacom and the two were never able to reach an agreement.

Thus, on July 10, 20 million paying DirecTV customers lost access to Viacom’s networks. A Viacom executive recently told a reporter that discussions with DirecTV have ended and aren’t expected to resume any time soon.

This outcome is bad for both businesses. DirecTV now has a lot of customers who aren’t happy that they’re getting less than they used to but are still paying the same price, and ratings for Viacom’s networks have fallen, since not as many viewers can see them anymore.

The reason we’re bringing this up is that Florida business owners are almost certain to go through contract negotiations at some point. While not every round of negotiations ends this dramatically, an unfruitful bout of contract negotiations can have a negative impact on your business. Many businesspeople in Miami and elsewhere find it very useful to have an attorney help them with such negotiations. Having skilled assistance often makes an unsatisfactory end result less likely.

Source: The South Florida Sun Sentinel, “Viacom says talks with DirecTV have broken down,” Joe Flint, July 18, 2012