Comporium may have to remove cable television channels such as Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and several others as early as next week because the Rock Hill company and other cable systems can’t agree with Viacom on new rates.
Comporium spokesman Paul Kutz said the company wants to keep showing the programs, but if a contract between the National Cable Television Cooperative and Viacom can’t be reached by Monday, Comporium will no longer receive Viacom’s signal.
A Viacom spokesperson confirmed negotiations are ongoing, but declined to elaborate.
Richard Fickle, president and chief executive of the National Cable Television Cooperative, said each side is bargaining in good faith. The cooperative represents about 750 affected by the negotiations. Fickle said the talks represent the usual contract negotiations between cable providers and the seven companies that control 90 percent of cable television’s content.
Rates for 23 Viacom channels are being negotiated.
What is different this time is Viacom appears unwilling to extend the current contract while negotiating, Fickle said.
Fickle said there is a “big gap” between what Viacom wants to charge and what cable system providers will pay. He said Viacom is punishing small operators because it can no longer get the rate increases it was accustomed to from bigger distributors such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable and DirecTV.
Fickle declined to release specific numbers, but said “we’re not talking cents but multiple dollars on a cable bill,” if Viacom’s proposed rate is passed on to consumers.
A news release from Comporium said that for consumers, the increase would compare to “pulling to the gas pump and finding that the price has gone from $3.50 to $6 overnight.”
Glenn McFadden, Comporium’s executive vice president and chief operating office, said Viacom’s proposed rate is “40 times the rate of inflation.”
The proposed Viacom increase would affect five million cable subscribers in 3,000 communities, Fickle said.
“When a multi-billion dollar company such as Viacom demands an unprecedented increase in its monthly fees, we believed it’s our responsibility to take a stand,” McFadden said.