MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Others Disappear From DirecTV

As we reported early Tuesday morning, contract negotiations between DirecTV and Viacom had broken down in recent days, meaning nearly 20 million satellite subscribers could be without 26 channels, including basic cable mainstays like MTV, Vh1, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon. The deadline has come and gone, and those channels have vanished from DirecTV.

Reads a statement from Viacom:

We are deeply disappointed that DirecTV dropped Viacom’s channels before our midnight deadline this evening, severing our connection with its nearly 20 million subscribers nationwide. We proposed a fair deal that amounted to an increase of only a couple pennies per day, per subscriber, and we remained willing to negotiate that deal right up to this evening’s deadline. However, DirecTV refused to engage in meaningful conversation. We are hopeful that DirecTV will work with us toward a resolution, and stop denying its subscribers access to the networks they watch most.

The broadcaster says the last time it heard from DirecTV was around 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning, and that its channels went off the air or DirecTV users around 11:50 p.m. ET on Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, all the blacked-out channels have been replaced with a loop of DirecTV CEO Mike White explaining his company’s side of the story and claiming that the interruption is only temporary.

DirecTV claims that Viacom is asking for an additional $1 billion over what the satellite provider paid on the recently expired contract.

It has also joined its voice to the growing chorus of cable and satellite providers who opposed broadcasters’ bundling of higher-rated channels with barely watched offshoots and niche networks. DirecTV says customers shouldn’t have to pay for channels no one watches.

Of course, no cable or satellite companies are willing to let customers make a la carte choices for their cable packages, so it seems like a bit of a double standard.