Viacom warns of impending blackout on AT&T, DirecTV | Major Businesses | Business
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The carriage contract between Viacom and AT&T’s U-Verse and DirecTV service expires at midnight on Friday and apparently things don’t look good for a renewal: Viacom has started running spots warning viewers of impending blackouts.

viacom 21 march 2019The programmer, whose cable nets include MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and BET among its 22+ channels, is urging subscribers to call AT&T to tell the pay-TV giant to keep the networks available.

“Unfortunately, AT&T is abusing its new market position by favouring its own content – which significantly underperforms Viacom’s – to stifle competition,” Viacom said in a statement. “AT&T-DirecTV’s behaviour is also consistent with a recent pattern of gouging their customers by charging them higher prices for an inferior product with fewer channels. Especially troubling, AT&T-DirecTV is marginalising diverse audiences in its new DTV packages and threatening to do the same with their existing products.”

It added, “AT&T’s unwillingness to engage in constructive conversations unfortunately could force a disruption in service.”

For its part, AT&T hit back, saying that Viacom channels have lost 40% of their audience in the past six years.

“We’re disappointed to see Viacom put our customers in the middle of their negotiations,” AT&T said in a statement. We are on the side of customer choice and value and want to keep Viacom’s channels in our customers’ lineups. We hope to avoid any interruption to the channels some of our customers care about,” AT&T said in a statement.

AT&T noted that several times in past years, Viacom stations have been blacked out, calling the programmer a “bad actor.”

“Our goal is always to deliver the content our customers want at a value that also makes sense to them,” AT&T said in a statememt. “We’ve always fought to get the best deal for our customers, delivering the content they want at a great value. We’ll continue to fight for that here.”