Nation & World

Viacom, AT&T reach deal

Agreement will keep Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central on DirecTV

Dreamstime/TNS

Viacom, AT&T reach deal that keeps Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central on DirecTV.
Dreamstime/TNS Viacom, AT&T reach deal that keeps Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central on DirecTV.

After days of tense negotiations, AT&T and Viacom reached a new distribution agreement, averting a blackout of Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and other channels on AT&T’s DirecTV service.

The breakthrough came early Monday — 52 hours after the previous carriage contract had expired.

But the two sides had been making progress, so executives plowed ahead with the talks beyond the Friday night deadline.

AT&T provides TV service to 24.5 million homes in the United States, including about one million customers in the Los Angeles region.

AT&T is the nation’s largest pay-TV distributor. It also owns U-Verse, WatchTV and DirecTV Now.

The talks were bruising because AT&T demanded a reduction in the carriage fees charged by Viacom. The Dallas telecommunications company, which is heavily in debt, currently pays Viacom about $1 billion a year for the rights to distribute the channels.

AT&T has been hunting for ways to cut costs.

Terms of the new contract were not disclosed, but Viacom appears to have lowered the fees it charges for its channels.

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Viacom had enlisted several stars, including Noah, Tyler Perry and Lindsay Lohan, to rally fans to pressure AT&T to keep the channels.

The dispute comes as both companies struggle to adapt to industry shifts. Streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix have provided consumers with lower-cost alternatives with high-quality shows.

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