Cable Association Steps Into Viacom-TWC Dispute, Orders Crawl Stopped

Dec 31, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The American Cable Association demanded that Viacom stop the crawl running during its programming that tells cable subscribers that they might lose networks such as Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon at midnight.
The crawl was being televised to all cable subscribers, but Viacom is in a dispute only with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, which represent only 16 million of the nation’s 98 million cable subscribers.
“Viacom has shown reprehensible judgment today while engaging in what amounts to a national misinformation campaign against thousands of cable operators and millions of subscribers,” said Steve Friedman, American Cable Association chairman and chief operating officer of Wave Broadband.
“It is … beyond the norm and completely unacceptable that they would erroneously and imprudently alarm 82.9 million subscribers around the country that have nothing to do with that mess and are now concerned their service will soon be disrupted,” said Matt Polka, ACA president and CEO. “The crawl maliciously and unnecessarily interferes with our members’ ability to serve their customers and must be pulled.”
A Viacom spokesman said the crawls had already stopped running this afternoon, and it had not planned to air them this evening.
According to the ACA, the crawl says: “Alert! Alert! Alert! Attention Time Warner Cable and Bright House Network customers, starting tonight, you will lose 19 channels from your TV including MTV, VH1, Spike, Comedy Central, TV Land, Nickelodeon and Noggin. Don’t miss out on your favorite shows. You can stop this! Time Warner Cable customers call 1-800-762 3786 Bright House Networks customers call 1-866-309-3279 and demand they keep these channels! Must be at least 18 years old to call.”


  1. Viacom’s ad revenue is down and they want MORE money from Time Warner to send them their feed. This is a BLACKMAIL attempt by Viacom and has NOTHING to do with Time Warner and Bright House.
    I say cut the damned feed and let their revenues from ads fall even farther! They will come back to Time Warner and Bright House on their knees.

  2. Viacom needs to think of the consumers first – Please don’t pull these channels from Time Warner Cable or Brighthouse Networks!

  3. This kind of thing will continue until everyone wakes up and realizes that the subscriber fee business model is no longer sustainable. Keep it up. Like the RIAA, the days of cable as we know it are numbered, as are the fortunes of hundreds of second-rate cable channels.

  4. By all means put the price for each channel up by as much as you want. Just give everyone the option to refuse the channels the do not want to pay for.

  5. Gadge, think through your idea, if channels are ordered a la carte as you suggest the only channels that would be sustainable are the likes of USA, TBS and TNT. In other words, channels that have no special interest other than “broadcast network” like programming (and we all know where they are heading). A la carte is a good idea in theory, but will really only put TV “back to the future” where all options need to appeal to the broadest audiences to survive. I dont know about you, but the prospect of having only general entertainment cable channels, some which will inevitably take the shape of the braodcast net CW in a new “a la carte world” is not what I want to see.

  6. …not to mention that a la carte will inevitably do in a lot of the cable channels out there today. They won’t be changing their programming – they’ll just be going away. Many of these niche channels survive on the exorbitant per-subscriber fees and transmission agreements that their parent channels force upon the cable companies. This is what Enik is referring to as far as their business model. ESPN charges cable companies up the wazoo and puts in blackmail clauses that force them to have to carry crappy networks like ESPN Classic or get nothing at all. ESPN Classic would never survive if individual consumers had to pay $1 to $2 just for that channel. It wouldn’t be able to survive by just changing to general appeal programming either because in an a la carte world, there would be so many other channels doing this, the market would reach saturation very quickly, forcing a lot of them out of the market.
    Still, I don’t think a la carte would be bad for the cable companies, because it would finally give them the upper-hand when negotiating contracts with a lot of these programmers, and render these extortion practices obsolete. It would really shake up the entire programming industry, that’s for sure – and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

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