Bright House, Viacom reach agreement

Published 12:26 pm Wednesday, December 31, 2008

After negotiating into the early morning hours on New Year’s Day, Viacom and Bright House were able to reach a license renewal agreement that kept MTV and its network of channels on the air for area cable customers.

According to a released statement the two companies will finalize terms of the agreement over the next few days.

“We are pleased that our customers will continue to be able to watch the programming they enjoy on MTV Networks,” said Kevin Hyman, Executive Vice President, Cable Operations of Bright House Networks. “We are sorry they had to endure a day of public disagreement as we worked through this negotiation.”

Cable subscribers in Greenville and Georgiana faced the possibility of Viacom pulling MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and 10 other channels from Bright House as negotiations had reached a stalemate on New Year’s Eve. Viacom was asking Time Warner Cable – which owns a major interest in Bright House – for an increase of 25 cents per subscriber per month for broadcasting its channels. Bright House’s stance was that Viacom’s channels were not worth more today than past years and the increase would force customers to play millions of dollars more per year.

“MTV, for example, has experienced a 39 percent drop in advertising,” said Karen Broach, Division President for Bright House in Birmingham. “We know they have lost a ton of viewers. These networks do not have the same value as they’ve had in the past.”

Broach said calls to Bright House on Wednesday were mostly from parents upset over losing Nickelodeon and its popular children’s programming.

“We’ve been partners with Bright House Networks for a long time, and we’re happy to be renewing that partnership for the benefit of their customers and our loyal viewers,” said Philippe Dauman, President and CEO of Viacom. “It’s gratifying that we could reach an agreement that benefits not only our audiences but that is also in the best interest of both of our companies.”

Bright House provides cable service in portions of Alabama, Indiana, California, Florida and Michigan. A blackout of Viacom’s channels would have affected an estimated 2.4 million cable subscribers in those areas.