TV blackout wars in a quiet period
December 27th, 2013
01:05 PM ET

TV blackout wars in a quiet period

By Brian Stelter, CNN

The TV industry has a holiday tradition straight out of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas:" End of year feuds that lead to channel blackouts for viewers.

But this year, everybody is playing nice. (It's almost as if the hearts of television executives have collectively grown three sizes.)

At issue are the carriage fees that distributors like Comcast and DirecTV (the biggest cable and satellite providers in the United States, respectively) have to pay to carry cable channels. They regularly have to re-negotiate fees with programmers like The Walt Disney Company, which controls ESPN and ABC Family, and Viacom, which owns MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.

Talks tend to get heated toward the end of the year - but evidently not this year. On Tuesday, Time Warner Cable and Viacom announced a deal a full week before the Jan. 1 deadline.

A number of other high-stakes negotiations have also been completed in recent weeks. An informal survey of industry representatives indicated that last-minute blackout threats were unlikely this New Year's Eve.

Distributors and programmers tend to keep their deals a secret - for competitive reasons and to cultivate a "no drama" perception in the industry.

Read more of Brian's article online here.

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Filed under: Comcast • DirecTV • Reliable Sources • Time Warner Cable • Viacom
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