New Deal Restores Viacom Shows To DirecTV Subscribers

July 20 (Reuters) – DirecTV Group’s 20 million U.S. subscribers are getting back “Jersey Shore” and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” after the satellite TV provider reached a deal to restore Viacom Inc’s networks, following a week-long blackout.

Viacom said it has restored all of its 17 cable networks, including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV and Spike, which became unavailable to DirecTV customers from July 10.

The dispute related to the fees that Viacom was demanding for its programming, which DirecTV viewed as a steep hike from their earlier deal.

The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the new contract. The previous deal was in place for seven years.

DirecTV had said Viacom’s request for a 30 percent increase in carriage fees, equaling $1 billion over five years, was not justified.

Viacom countered saying that its networks represented about 20 percent of all viewing on DirecTV, but accounted for less than 5 percent of its programming costs.

“The attention surrounding this unnecessary and ill-advised blackout by Viacom has accomplished one key thing: it serves notice to all media companies that bullying TV providers and their customers with blackouts won’t get them a better deal,” said Derek Chang, an executive vice-president of DirecTV.

Satellite TV providers such as DirecTV pay a fee to media companies such as Viacom that allows them to carry channels over their network. A demand for higher fees have often led to standoffs between the channels and the TV operators.

On July 1, AMC Networks, the company behind shows such as “Breaking Bad,” “The Walking Dead” and “Mad Men,” was removed from the Dish Network after the two companies failed to reach a new contract.

Similar blackouts have taken place in recent years between Cablevision and Walt Disney Co’s ABC; News Corp and Cablevision; and News Corp and Dish. In those cases and most others, a new contract was reached and the networks restored within days.

DirecTV and Viacom had been in talks over a new contract but could not agree on terms before the July 10 deadline.

The nine days of the blackout resulted in Viacom’s channels such as Nickelodeon losing ground to competitors like The Disney Channel. DirecTV also shed some customers in the period.

The new contract will let DirecTV customers view Viacom’s programming on tablets, laptops, handhelds and other personal devices.

Viacom shares closed at $46.65 on the Nasdaq on Thursday. DirecTV shares closed at $48.95 on the same exchange.