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Television Media

Viacom and DishNetwork Battle On Air Over Contract 604

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the this-is-just-bizarre dept.
An anonymous reader writes "This weekend, Viacom stations began scrolling messages on their cable stations(MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, etc) stating that DishNetwork may soon be removing the channels from its lineup and urging subscribers to call DishNetwork. DishNetwork subscribers(me!) may have begun to see black bars cover the messages and calls to DishNetwork regarding the messages were greeted with a recording telling subscribers to call the President and GM of KCBS. These antics stem from lawsuits here. I, for one, will be switching to DirecTV if they don't get this figured out."
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Viacom and DishNetwork Battle On Air Over Contract

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:46PM (#8502117)
    They currently own two broadcast networks (CBS and UPN), and abuse of their holdings like this to bully a carrier like this will get them in hot water with not only the FCC, but the FTC as well.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yes. Because Big media companies are currently under heavy attach from the government.

      Thats sarcasm.

      Are you blind or just stupid. Large Companies are under absolutely no threat from the government and they know it.
      • by dreamchaser (49529) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:59PM (#8502336) Homepage Journal
        You forget that this is an election year and that due to corporate scandals and the like, the unwashes masses *want* to see some blood in the water.
        • by haydenth (588730) <{ude.usm} {ta} {htnedyah}> on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:27PM (#8502722)
          unfortunately, its going to be Howard Stern's blood :(
          • by dreamchaser (49529) on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:32PM (#8502799) Homepage Journal
            That is just the tip of the iceberg. Personally I don't like Stern at all, I think he's one of the most overrated radio personalities ever. However, I do support free speech, and I think that parents should be responsible for what their kids read/see/hear, within reason.
            • Howard should try to get onto XM or Sirrius(sp), he could be free of FCC restraint and those two need something of that caliber to bring more subscribers. I'd seriously consider it if I could get Stern.
              • by Anonymous Coward
                It doesn't matter, the FCC is looking to regulate cable TV and satellite radio http://slate.msn.com/id/2095398/. Welcome to life in a fundamentalist state. Soon we'll get all the repression, legislation of morality and holy wars that go with it. Or did we already get those?
                • by leviramsey (248057) * on Monday March 08, 2004 @06:47PM (#8503512) Journal

                  If they start, Bush and Ashcroft are going to go down as the people who sent the Republican Party into the graveyard.

                  Rupert Murdoch is basically gambling his empire on DirecTV. Increased content regulations will hurt his profit (porn is the most profitable aspect of DirecTV's business). If the GOP becomes a threat to the profitability, Rupert will try to eliminate the GOP.

                  This means prime-time specials on Fox, Fox Sports, and Fox News denouncing the Republican Party as the Communist Party of the USA. This means every GOP scandal will be fully aired in the New York Post.

                  He's taken down governments in Australia and the UK before.

                  • by d.valued (150022) on Monday March 08, 2004 @10:12PM (#8505233) Journal
                    Rupert Murdoch is basically gambling his empire on DirecTV.


                    1: Charlie Ergen, CEO of Echostar, IS a gambler. Not as in a business sense.

                    2: You forget that NewsCorp. is one of the largest media empires of the world. DirecTV gives him worldwide satellite coverage, Fox News gives him news. While DirecTV may be a jewel of his crown, there are other elements that make it sit high on his head.

                    If the GOP becomes a threat to profitabity, Rupert will try to eliminate the GOP.


                    Not a chance. His politics lean conservative to begin with. FCC regulation? Bah. So what if it means he can't PPV porn (fat chance, especially once courts get involved, possibly fixing original indecency decision)? The satellite network is useful for other reasons to Rup.

                    Content regulation only affects certain aspects of broadcasting. The primary target is OTA broadcasters, the ones you pick up on a radio dial or with a pair of rabbit ears on your radiation box. Secondary targets may be basic cable channels, as they tend to use unscrambled satellite signals for broadcast. Note, *may* *be*. One typically cannot receive such signals without equipment, my neighbor's (EM-wise) noisy TV notwithstanding.

                    Premium services and PPV events, which are encrypted and encoded, are most likely to avoid any regulation. Current laws, including our ol' friend 12 USC 1701, preclude illicit reception of the signals.

                    I am not a lawyer, but I play one online. Do not use for legal advice, medication, stock tips, or to induce vomiting.
          • ...and Martha Stewart apparently. Poor little sacrificial lamb.
    • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:00PM (#8502345)
      And let's not forget their own investors.

      Dish Network holds about 8% of the TV audience. What that means is that there will be an instant drop in the audience by 8% on all of the affected stations.

      Viacom does not own any distribution arms other than OTA TV stations. Their entire cable empire stands at risk if they can't make deals with outside distributors. Viacom needs Dish more than Dish needs Viacom.
    • by swordboy (472941) on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:07PM (#8502458) Journal
      It should be noted that Viacom are the ones putting the scoll bar on those channels - they are appearing to EVERYONE watching from any provider. The irony is that they are plumbing them through Dishnetwork's own system. Some cool stuff is here [dishnetwork.com].

      Pick up the phone and call Don Corsini and let him know how you feel.

      The summary: Dishnetwork has the lowest cost programming in the US. They'd like to keep it that way so they are dropping these channels from their basic package. They will allow people to add them if the cost is deemed worth while on a per-user basis. This is good for the consumer and good for the free market because Viacom will learn that they can't just raise their prices arbitrarily and still keep their seat in the basic package.

      Fuck Viacom
      • by jridley (9305) on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:47PM (#8502981)
        Yes, except according to the Dish Network help people, you can't buy channels a'la carte anymore. So if I want to pick up Nick in addition to basic, I have to buy the whole next package up. This kind of stinks.

        According to the person I talked to, the ala carte thing was taken away because they'd get people sitting on the phone with customer service, looking through a listing of 500 channels, hemming and hawing, asking what was on different channels, and taking 30 minutes of phone time to decide to buy 2 channels that cost $1.50 each per month.
        • Stupid reaction to stupid problem.

          Why not disallow *phone* ordering of customized selection? Instead allow it over the web where you can browse the listing and click & pick? I know e-commerce sites are Difficult(tm), and cable/dish companies are not the brightest bunch, but still...
        • I used to work for the cable company (not saying which one, but I'm sure you can guess based on past comments--please don't spoil it for anyone) and number one on my big list of questions was why, if the set-top digital receivers had all these fancy whizbangs for communications and PPV ordering, didn't the cable company use them to simplify stuff like tech support or channel selection? If you spend $1 million on customizing the firmware for your set-top box (a moot issue for mini-sat providers like Dish an
      • I've been waiting for someone to do this.

        I'm sick of having to pay for dozens of channels I never watch and don't want, just to get the half dozen I do want.

        I want the cable company to let me pay for just the channels I want. That means no news channels and no sports channels. Ironically, most of the Viacom channels are ones I'd pay for.

        I'd also pay extra for HBO, if I didn't have to pay for all those news and sports channels... but since I do, no HBO for me.
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:46PM (#8502123)
    Here's the list of channels that will fall off of Dish Network if there's no deal by 11:59:59 PM ET tonight:

    BET
    Comedy Central
    MTV
    MTV2
    Nick Games & Sports
    Nickelodeon/Nick at Night (Both East and West versions)
    Noggin/The N
    VH1
    VH1 Classic
    All CBS O&O stations (listed here) [paramountstations.com] within their local markets. (Those seeing WCBS, KCBS, or WBZ as a distant CBS service outside of their natrual zones will not be affected.)
    All UPN O&O stations (listed here) [paramountstations.com] within their local markets. (Those seeing WSBK as a superstation outside of Boston will not be affected.)
    KCAL in the Los Angeles area.
    • by Flabby Boohoo (606425) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:49PM (#8502170) Journal
      You forgot Spike TV.
      • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:55PM (#8502265)
        You forgot Spike TV.

        It's true that Viacom owns SpikeTV and its former sister network CMT, but I'm having trouble confirming that they're covered by the contract that currently is in dispute. (The two may be covered by a contract that's a holdover from the days that SpikeTV was The Nashville Network they were owned by a freestanding Nashville-based company.)

        I know for sure that Viacom's Showtime and The Movie Channel properties are definitely under other contracts and therefore won't be involved in this situation.
      • I saw the scrolling messages this weekend (on Spike, I love Powerblock TV) and I'm in Canada using Rogers Cable. I presume that means Viacom is overlaying the message on their 'base' signal. I wonder if anyone using a service other than DishNetwork seen the messages...
        • I've got DirecTV and saw the scrollbar on Comedy Central Sunday night and on Nickelodeon during the weekend.

          Try explaining to my boys that they're not in danger of loosing Spongebob. Sometimes, almost wish they couldn't read.

        • I'm getting the damn banner while trying to watch TNG. I DO NOT CARE because I'm not a Dish subscriber. Whoever targeted this is a lazy idiot who can't be bothered to not irritate people who have no interest in the matter. They'll probably end up with more irritated subscribers that start phoning them to complain from other networks than they get DISH subscribers complaining. (Er, I couldn't figure out how to word that so it would make sense, but I'm sure readers can figure it out...) If they don't quit doi
    • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:51PM (#8502203)
      Wow so after they go off the air the average intelligence of the Dish Network subscribers rise 50 points.
    • by the_c0de_man (759235) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:55PM (#8502258)
      I can live without any of those channels, except it would suck to not have the Daily show. Cartoon Network is really the only cable network that has anything good on anymore. Sealab 2020, Space Ghost, Aquatine Hunger Force, and my personal favorite, Home Movies (if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it).

      MTV is such crap. They had an excellent show, Clone High, which they cancelled. As far as I'm concerned, Viacom can screw themselves.

      And Comedy Central is just boring most of the time. I can't figure out how Dave Attell earned the title of "Comedian". All he does is just take us around shitty neighborhoods chatting with stupid people. If I wanted to see that, I would watch Cops.

  • sounds familiar (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bandy (99800) <andrew.beals+slashdot@gmail.com> on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:48PM (#8502144) Homepage Journal
    This sounds familiar to the situation where the owners of KRON [tv] in San Francisco wanted them to air a station of theirs from LA, and withheld broadcast rights to KRON until they caved.

    We did without NBC for six months, Charlie [Dish] never caved. NBC moved itself to a San Jose station and we get NBC again.

    Viacom probably wants Dish to carry additional channels or drop competing channels from their line-up.
    • Re:sounds familiar (Score:5, Informative)

      by Babbster (107076) <aaronbabb@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:04PM (#8502405) Homepage
      Specifically, Viacom is trying to force Dish to carry the "Nicktoons" channel, and is trying to get an increase in the rates that Echostar pays Viacom for the whole lineup. More details in this article [forbes.com].

      I don't know jack about the rate increases and how fair they are, though I have to wonder how much extra commercial networks (ALL of the affected broadcast/cable channels have paid commercial advertising) should be expecting Dish Network and, by extension, their customers to pay for those channels. But the Nicktoons issue is a clear example of a media conglomerate using its consolidated power to force the purchase of something that the customer doesn't want.

      The only thing that would really affect me (and deeply at that) is the loss of Comedy Central. But I'm willing to put up with that in the hopes that the little guy (Echostar) can put the big guy (Viacom) in his place.

  • Very Annoying (Score:3, Interesting)

    by britrock (684244) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:48PM (#8502147)
    I'm a directv subscriber, and I'm seeing these messages as well. It scared the hell out of my wife yesterday. She thought it applied to us, and was really mad.

    These kind of games are very annoying. Honestly, even if dish network did drop the channels, how long do you think it would last? They would either bring them back or loose a lot of customers.
    • Re:Very Annoying (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You want to talk about annoying? I'm a Comcast subscriber. I don't even own a dish and I'm seeing these fucking messages.

      • You want to talk about annoying? I'm a Comcast subscriber.
        Yeah, I can see how that would be really annoying.

        I don't even own a dish and I'm seeing these fucking messages.
        So? How is that any different than me? I don't have Dish Network either. Is it some how less annoying because I have a dish on my roof?
  • by falzbro (468756) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:48PM (#8502150) Homepage
    I'm a Dish subscriber. I saw this message begin to scroll by several times over the weekend, and wondered what the hell was up.

    Each time, a few words in, a black bar appeared across the screen to block it out.

    This explains a lot. How childish.
    • At least they tried to black it out. Viacom started moving their crawl around the screen, and the EchoStar folks blew it several times. Childishness all around.
    • by orthogonal (588627) on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:28PM (#8502738) Journal
      Each time, a few words in, a black bar appeared across the screen to block it out.
      [ from the article: "DishNetwork subscribers(me!) may have begun to see black bars cover the messages"]


      Now, I seem to remember a fuss about how modifying web-proxies (like Proxomitron) which remove ads from web pages, and TIVO-like devices, which allow the editing out or skipping of broadcast ads, violated the creator's copyright.

      My feeling is that editing out, as an end-user, is perfectly acceptable, equivalent to glancing away from a TV or scribbling over an ad in a magazine.

      But that's because I got the content the creator wished me to get, and I made a decision to ignore it. And indeed, that's what a judge decided in the case of those browser add-ons that replace a site's ads with their own: since the end user (wittingly or nor!) installed it, it's ok.

      But were my ISP to start modifying pages I received via my ISP's pipe, I'd be outraged: it's one thing for me to ignore whatever ad is showing on Slashdot today (yes, I use Proxomitron), it's quite another not to have the option to see that ad. Similarly, at one point, my hosting company (not my ISP) was filtering my email for spam. I promptly told them that wasn't what I wanted: I'm paranoid enough to about missing mail (you never know when an old ex-girlfriend is suddenly going to realize she's still in love with you -- and so far none of them have, but I live in hope ;) ), and besides, I'm perfectly capable of filtering for spam on my end.

      So how can it be legal for Dish to edit out content that's is efficiently advertisements on Viacom's stations?

      And how can we let the precedent be set that a carrier, not a creator or an end-user, has any right to do this? Because while what's being edited out is effectively an advertisement by Viacom, it is also an editorial comment. which leads to a slippery slope: if Dish can censor this, can they also censor a story on "60 Minutes" critical of Dish? A new story about, or an advertisement by, a political candidate that Dish doesn't want you to see?

      Just because you're the client of some carrier should not mean that that carrier has any right to regulate -- or, as in this case, change what you see. This is dangerous, and desires to be slapped down quickly and decisively.

  • by bc90021 (43730) * <bc90021NO@SPAMbc90021.net> on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:48PM (#8502157) Homepage
    ...two big companies fighting and suing, and who gets screwed? The customers. They're the ones losing the channels and getting black bars on their screens...

    And who wins? The lawyers, of course.
  • Effective? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gid13 (620803) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:48PM (#8502160)
    One wonders whether these calls for help actually get people to call in, and how many people have to call for the company to want to keep a show. I'd imagine some people see that and say "sweet merciful crap, first commercials, and now a telethon in between". Guess it's a good thing I'm too much of an internet junkie to care about TV anymore. :)
  • by 403Forbidden (610018) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:48PM (#8502161)
    I still get those damn scrolling messages. Haven't looked to see if they covered them up with anything, but it's quite a freaking shame to have MY PAID FOR channels have a scroll-bar at the bottom because of a scuffle with an entirely different company.

    The message itself was inflamitory, saying how customers should call Dish to keep the channels that "they [the consumer] paid for!" when that doesn't describe the scope of the suit in the least...
  • by danuary (748394) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:48PM (#8502162)
    Although the ads were -directed- at DishNetwork viewers they were visible on other networks. I saw the "Attention Dish Network Subscribers" message when watching Comedy Central over the weekend -- and I have Time Warner Cable in NYC. I'm most certainly not who they were looking to reach.
  • by Mente (219525) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:48PM (#8502164)
    If I had to guess, I would say that Dish is going to get sued for the black bar. I don't think they are entitled to alter the broadcast, but only to re-broadcast.
  • I wouldn't have really had an opinion - if they hadn't tried to hide the messages being sent on those channels. Now I'm going to have to side with Viacom (not that I am a supporter of Viacom in any way shape or form.)
    • Re:Censorship? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by the_mad_poster (640772) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:04PM (#8502412) Homepage Journal

      No, it's not censorship... jesus christ. Viacom is intentionally scrolling messages to try and turn Dish Network subscribers against Dish Network by making it seem like Dish is "threatening" (I quote) to drop various popular channels such as Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, etc.

      I don't think it's unfair to expect Dish to try and block out that kind of obvious bullshit. If the issue really were that simple, then okay, but Viacom is trying to play ignorant consumers against Dish Network by manipulating them with half-truths and menacing terms. I see nothing wrong with Dish trying to defend itself from these flagrant attacks by blotting the messages out.

      • Re:Censorship? (Score:3, Insightful)

        No, it's not censorship... jesus christ.

        Censorship is still censorship. I don't support the KKK, but I respect their right to say what they want openly without being told what they can and cannot say.
        • Re:Censorship? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chibi Merrow (226057)
          Censorship is still censorship. I don't support the KKK, but I respect their right to say what they want openly without being told what they can and cannot say.

          Ahh but there is where you become lost, grasshopper. For the only 'right' regarding speech is freedom from Government censorship. A corporation is entirely within its rights to control what is broadcast over its own satellite. Much as a sysadmin can delete forum posts he or she does not want to host.

          Repeat the mantra again, young one...
          "Congress s
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:49PM (#8502171)
    The annoying crawls are not just limited to Dish Network. Viacom has no way to force a crawl onto only Dish Network feeds of their networks, so they have to put the crawls onto the network's backhaul feeds and therefore everybody sees them.

    I've been told that DirecTV's call centers have also been geting calls from their own consumers who don't read the whole ticker and are wondering if they're at risk too. (DirecTV's contracts are not lapsing right now, only Dish's.)
  • by Saven Marek (739395) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:50PM (#8502184)
    First we have SCO suing customers (and another company did too last year) and now crap like this being pulled with companies using customers as pawns in their power games between each other.

    Maybe companies are forgetting one thing and one essential thing. No matter how much money they have or how many years theyve been around and on top they got where they are by being a service to their customers

    It sounds like neither of these companies are doing that any more. It's the death throes of business when distraction overcomes service.

    nude mac desktop gallery [67.160.223.119]
    • by ciroknight (601098) on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:12PM (#8502537)
      I'm surprised you didn't also mention the RIAA suing its longtime customers for downloading music/breaching contract. If anything, I see 2004 as being the Year of the Consumer; we're all getting pissed at the Mega-Corporations who are in control over 75% of everything, and finding cheaper, better ways around them. Just look at the major Airlines, being outsold and circumvented by shorter, commuter flights because people see them as safer, and a hell of a lot cheaper.

      I really think America needs to go back and re-examine the Anti-Trust, the Corporation laws, and the Patent/Copyright laws. None seem to be working and it's time we stand up for ourselves and take responsibility for them not working.
  • The message was... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ayandia (630042) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:51PM (#8502210)
    The message was something like this:

    DishNetwork will stop offering BET, MTV, Nick at Night, Comedy Central...and many others. DishNetwork subscribers, call DishNetwork and tell them you want to keep the channels you paid for.

    It seemed to me like they were really saying:

    DishNetwork subscribers, please call DishNetwork and tie up their support lines with furious indignance while we spread disinformation!

    But the message had a complete lack of WHY those channels were going away, if at all. Anyone have some insight?
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:52PM (#8502213)
    Dish Network is trying to hold the line on the wholesale price of content. DirecTV, by comparison, just raised prices for their main content packages.

    So, if you want to get your content from the low-price supplier, you want to be with Dish Network and put up with these occasional squabbles. If you want a distributor that has a history of bending over whenever the prices go up, you go to DirecTV or your local cable company. Competition in a marketplace is good that way...

  • Childish. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Mori Chu (737710) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:52PM (#8502217)
    I saw these messages the other day. I found it a little annoying. I'm on Comcast cable, and I have nothing to do with this little squabble, yet I have to watch these childish messages scroll across my screen on several channels. It reminds me of what I have heard about ESPN consistently charging a fortune to the cable and dish companies for the privilege of carrying their channel. At least ESPN doesn't have Dick Vitale jump out at me during a broadcast saying, "Call your satellite operator and keep us on your channel lineup, baby!"
  • by wonderdog (80639) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:52PM (#8502221)
    I've been a DishNet sub for 8 yrs now. To say I'm unhappy with the quality of their products would be an understatement. I'm ready to jump ship to DTV as soon as the HD DirecTiVo ships.

    BUT, Viacom is the evil party here IMO. They're holding Dish and all of its customers hostage until Dish accepts unreasonable contract terms. I for one, don't want higher TV monthly charges just because Viacom forces Dish to carry some obscure channels that the vast majority of subs will never watch.

    A la carte pricing would address this, but that's a whole nuther discussion.
  • If not, I'll go back to basic cable (yes, evil comcast) and forego the additional $30-$40 of monthly fees. That being said, it looks like Echostar is getting the squeeze from Viacom... I can't believe that Viacom is getting away with this, it seems like a petty power play.
  • by Newer Guy (520108) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:54PM (#8502249)
    ABC pulled this crap a few years ago with a cable operator, and the public (and FCC) backlash was to say the least, massive!

    I'd have thought that with all the crap their Infinity radio division is having with the FCC, not to mention the Janet Jackson flap they'd be doing their best to stay off the radar screen!

    I don't know whether these big companies are arrogant or stupid, but it sure illustrates why media monopolies are bad for the consumer.
  • its a bloody shame (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dj245 (732906) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:57PM (#8502280) Homepage
    Its a bloody shame that this is happening. I've found that the DirectTV box is buggy, or full of nasty "features". My carefully pruned favorites lists will have channels added to it at random times. I am often surprised to find that my 30-channel DirectTV favorites list has grown overnight to a 50-channel list with the inclusion of all the DTV informational channels and most of the QVC and shopping type channels. Does anyone elses box do this? I'd like to hope its a coincidental bug, but I'm the ever cynic, so I'm afraid its a very shameful "feature".
    • QVC and shopping type channels

      Yeah, that "bug" is generally referred to as a 'Wife'. Keeps happening to more and more people, strangely enough... Nothing a sledgehammer and a pit full of lye won't fix.

      Arrrgghhh my karma is burning!
    • by MBCook (132727)
      I've seen complaints about that on the TiVo board for DirecTiVo users. Basically DirecTV "removes" those channels and then instantly "adds" them, instead of just changing the title. This means that your box is seeing that a new channel has been added and is adding it to the list of channels you watch (like you would probably want it to do if a MTV3 was just added, or some other channel that you would care about). It's a "bug" in the way they do things that they don't really care about fixing.

      If you have an

  • Forbes writeup (Score:5, Informative)

    by danuary (748394) on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:57PM (#8502282)
    Substantially better writeup of the issues involved here [forbes.com].
  • I work there.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 08, 2004 @04:57PM (#8502287)
    I actually work For MTV Networks,

    I'm not happy about this either, but from I was told by management, Dish wants to pick and choose what they want to air, instead of taking packages. (ie they want MTV MTV2, Nick, and Comedy central but not Spike and cmt, Im not sure if the exact grouping though...) and Viacoms stance is its a package, they want some they take them all. This has started a pissing contest.

    Over the weekend We started moving the location of the crawl in order for it to be seen despite the black bar.
    • by ivan256 (17499) * on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:07PM (#8502471)
      Dish wants to pick and choose what they want to air

      Over their own network? God forbid.
    • Re:I work there.. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:22PM (#8502660)
      I'm not happy about this either, but from I was told by management, Dish wants to pick and choose what they want to air, instead of taking packages. (ie they want MTV MTV2, Nick, and Comedy central but not Spike and cmt, Im not sure if the exact grouping though...) and Viacoms stance is its a package, they want some they take them all. This has started a pissing contest.

      Viacom basically wants the right to say "We started this new Nicktoons channel. You have to take it (and pay for it) or lose all of the MTV Networks package channels." Dish Network sees Nicktoons as having no value to them since it at this point consists of only programs that have already run on the main Nick network.

      There's the core source of the dispute.
    • Re:I work there.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SyntheticTruth (17753) on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:36PM (#8502853)

      This is *exactly* why ala-cart channels are better for citizens. The package idea would not fly in any other market.

      "No, sir, you can not buy that printer without also buying the computer."

      "No, sir, you can not have a soda without also buying the burger and fries."

      The media companies, however, are huge and know they have the weight to toss around. I've never used either dish provider, but I'm glad to see one stand up to keep citizen's prices lower (and thus their own, of course.)

    • Re:I work there.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LordKronos (470910) on Monday March 08, 2004 @06:22PM (#8503341) Homepage
      Dish wants to pick and choose what they want to air, instead of taking packages...and Viacoms stance is its a package, they want some they take them all.

      I find it ironic that when dealing with the customer, Dish Network (along with every other Sat and Cable provider) ends up taking Viacom's position on the matter. Customers ask to pick and choose channels, but they are forced to take packages. I couldn't give a crap about the golf channel, but I have to take it (and 10 others I don't want) if I want Discovery. Maybe they need to learn that what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
    • Re:I work there.. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Colz Grigor (126123)
      What you describe is referred to in the legal world as "Product Tying" and may be illegal [astate.edu] under Section 1 of the Clayton Act of 1914.

      I'm positive that would be the grounds on which Dish Network will (or has) get the attention of the Federal Trade Commission in pursuing antitrust actions again Viacom.

      ::Colz Grigor

  • by Andy Smith (55346) on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:00PM (#8502347) Homepage
    It doesn't surprise me that one TV company is flaming another with scrolling messages. What does surprise me is the fact that a bunch of 80's demo coders managed to get these jobs in the first place.
  • All you folks paying for some sort of Dish based access feel like cattle now?

    Boy I sure do. If anything needs a bit of regulation, this industry does. People should not have to wonder if they can watch their paid for programming or not depending on the whims of some fat ass execs.

    Do you think Dish will compensate their customer base? Do they even care about their customer base?

    Too many programming choices are an either or bundle situation. People are stuck paying high rates in return for few real choices about their programming.

    Dish and Direct TV both should be forced to carry programming on a RAND basis. Their customers should be able to choose what they want with a finer grained degree than they do now.

    The bundled programming does not save any of us a dime because the 30 percent of good channels are spread throughout the bundles. This forces people to just pay for all the crap at once, rather than be able to pick 'n choose.

    We are seeing this because there is no real check on the power these distributors have over both their customer base and those who seek to distribute programming.

    Viacom is going to lose on this one because Dish holds most all the cards. People are going to wonder what happened. Dish will make sure and tell them their version first.

    • by brain1 (699194) on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:30PM (#8502767)
      No, sorry, not a bit. And here's why:

      I had DirecTV and was completely satisfied, then switched to cable (because it was "better" and I got a cable modem that worked about 50% of the time), dumped that nonsense and went to Dish Network. One of the reasons was I could finally get NASA TV with Dish.

      Dish, DirecTV, and your local cable company have to buy programming packages from the vendors, such as Viacom. They dont get to pick and choose ala-carte. So you, as an end-purchaser, dont get the chance to pay for just what you watch. The service provider gets stuck with the contracted package and has to air the losers along with the popular high rating channels.

      Personally, I prefer the satellite way because 1) I'm in control of the hardware. I dont mind climbing a latter and replacing a piece of cable that gets damaged. At least I dont have to take a day off from work to wait on a cable installer. If I move, it takes me 30 minutes to install and aim the dish. 2) The price is tremendously cheaper all around. The earth station equipment was free with free installation, and 3) the quality is much better. Straight mpeg video out of the decoder, not a signal that has passed through gawd knows how many line amplifiers between the head-end and my house. My cable reception looked like something off a cheap roof-top antenna.

      The only way I would dump what I have is if someone would pull fiber to the curb, like we've been promised for years.
  • by CXI (46706) on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:07PM (#8502461) Homepage
    Tell them how annoyed your are that they'd try and win in the court of public opinion instead of following regular, non-annoying negotiations:

    Viacom
    1515 Broadway
    New York, NY 10036
    tel.(212) 258-6000
    fax: (212) 258-6464
  • Go DISH! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@nOsPAm.beau.org> on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:14PM (#8502566)
    Yeah Dish network for resisting Viacom's cash grab. Personally I think every one of the channels mentioned should be FREE to the cable and sat operators and anyone with a dish for that matter. They are commercial supported broadcasters, not pay channels. Somewhere along the line the rules changed and now we PAY to watch commercials. Screw that. HBO, no problem because viewer fees are the only way to have movies without commercials. But MTV and Comedy Central should be able to support themselves with the commercials the same way the traditional broadcasters manage to get along without collecting fees from the viewers.
  • Go Dish Network! (Score:3, Informative)

    by polarbear (611) on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:24PM (#8502683)
    As a Dish Network customer I'm willing to put up with a few days loss of Viacom crap if it means my bill won't have the obscene inflation that cable customers have to put up with. My Dish Network bill is $34.99 (only rising $1 in the last year) compared to the $65+ I'd have to pay Time Warner for a package with the channels I want.

    In my eyes the cost of cable isn't worth it. For my viewing habits getting the highest level of Netflix subscription would be better then putting up with a $65 cable bill.

    Viacom should get smacked for scrolling misleading messages to all the cable and sat TV networks. I am paying for content not for your propaganda.

    As mentioned before, Dish Network subscribers concerned about the issue may wish to tune into "Charlie Chat" tonight at 9pm. Dish Network's CEO has a show on channel 100 or 101 once a month where customers can call in with questions. (If you miss the show it is rerun frequently).

  • by DroopyStonx (683090) on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:30PM (#8502768)
    This won't be taken away, will it? A friend of mine wants to know.
  • I gave up on TV (Score:3, Insightful)

    by macemoneta (154740) on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:35PM (#8502843) Homepage
    The wacky seasons, the reality shows, the lack of any script writing, 30% commercials... it all pissed me off.

    I dropped my cable TV to the lowest possible tier and signed up for Netflix instead. When I'm sure my cable company can properly separate cable and Internet services, I'll drop the cable TV altogether.

    At a DVD per day, it should take me a little more than 40 years to get through the Netflix inventory. No commercials, and I get to watch what I want when I want it -- the reason I signed up for cable to begin with.

    Nothing beats the bandwidth of a USPS mail truck full of DVDs.
  • by Poeir (637508) <poeir.geo@yahoTWAINo.com minus author> on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:41PM (#8502907) Journal
    Apparently, Viacom doesn't have a problem demanding people call someone else. Here's hoping they don't mind Slashdotters contacting them and objecting to their behavior (which is not appropriate in any way).

    Viacom Productions
    Phone: (310) 234-5000
    Fax: (310) 234-5059
    10880 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 1101
    Los Angeles, CA 90024
    Perry Simon President Viacom Television
  • by AyeRoxor! (471669) on Monday March 08, 2004 @05:45PM (#8502962) Journal
    I, for one, will be switching to DirecTV if they don't get this figured out.

    That's what they want. Dish Network doesn't want to pay more money and charge you more. They're fighting for you. If you can't see that, you're a total dick.

    Think about things once in a while. It might do you some good.
  • I, for one, will be switching to DirecTV if they don't get this figured out.

    There was a similar situation with DirecTV, the ABC Family channel, and the 700 Club a while ago. In that case, however, it was DirecTV playing hardball. IIRC, DirecTV wanted to pay less to ABC for the ABC Family channel, and threatened to drop it. [webprowire.com] Since ABCF is the cable outlet for the 700 Club, the issue of "freedom of religion" came up. So DirecTV started a scroll that said something like "The 700 Club is carried by a number of local channels throughout the country." A deal was eventually worked out, and ABCF is still on DirecTV.

    There was also a nasty battle [lycos.com] between ESPN and Cox Communications.

    In short, these disputes are becoming commonplace. Thank goodness so many good shows are being put out on DVD!

    Travis
  • by EMR (13768) on Monday March 08, 2004 @06:18PM (#8503289)
    DirectTV extorts money from people if they own a SmartCard reader..
    DishNetwork and viacom play foolish "kids" games with the consumers.
    and Comcast is just, well expensive, and could care less about it's consumers.
  • New Packages (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RayMarron (657336) on Monday March 08, 2004 @06:24PM (#8503357) Homepage
    I have DirecTV. I'd love to see them (DTV, Dish, cable co's) break these blocs of extra-cost channels out as separate options just like the premium movie channels.

    You want the Viacom channels?
    You want the ESPN lineup?
    You want the Disney lineup?
    You want the Discovery/History channels?
    You want Starz?
    You want Cinemax?
    etc. etc.

    I like Comedy Central, but if it was the only channel I wanted among all the other Viacom garbage, I'd skip if it would save me money.

    I'd also like to not pay for all that sports programming I never watch!

    Since the content providers only get paid per subscribing household, they'd find out real quick how valuable their content is when it comes as a distinct package rather than scattered throughout all the current tiers.
  • by microTodd (240390) on Monday March 08, 2004 @06:38PM (#8503464) Homepage Journal
    Interesting...I cannot find Viacom contact information on their website.

    http://www.viacom.com/factsandfig.tin#contact yields nothing...no phone numbers, addresses, email, nothing.

    Anyone know how I can email Sumner Redstone? (grin)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @12:26AM (#8506543)
    Way back during the C band dish era I worked for a third party packager. I must say that Viacom's methods closely match Microsoft's. Whenever they would have a Channel that wasn't selling very well they would make you tie it to a more popular station. Back then ESPN was a big seller and VH1 was having some trouble. Their soultion was to allow the packager to sell ESPN only if VH1 was included. Basically they were forcing the customers to pay for VH1 whether they wanted it or not. After caving in to them for a couple of years we finally called their bluff. We told them we would be dropping Showtime and The Movie Channel as a result of their forcing channels on customers. We even printed up 40,000 bill inserts notifying customers that we would no longer be offering the channels and anyone with a current subscription would be refunded the balance and be given three months of HBO/Cinemax free. Faced with losing 40,000 customers and giving HBO/Cinemax a PR win Viacom dropped the bundling requirement for us. I cna't help but feel like Dish is facing the same thing we were. If they stick to their guns Vicom will cave, the scrolling message shows that they are desperate.

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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