Can you live without SpongeBob? Do you still want your MTV? You might be considering these questions if you're caught in the middle of the brewing battle between satellite TV provider EchoStar/DISH Network and network owner Viacom. EchoStar has pulled all Viacom stations off the air after the two companies failed to agree on payment hikes. Neither company appears ready to come to a peaceful solution.
Channels that EchoStar customers will no longer receive include the top-rated CBS network, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, and VH-1. Involved markets are huge, including—but not limited to—New York, Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, affecting 1.6 million EchoStar customers receiving CBS local programming and all 9.5 million customers receiving the national stations.
In a public statement, EchoStar accused Viacom of "holding the public airwaves hostage" by asking for 40 percent rate increases for its channels. EchoStar also urged its customers to call Viacom and protest. Viacom has dismissed EchoStar's move to shut down its channels and has offered an "easy" fix for its customers: Simply switch to another means of receiving its channels—for example, cable providers Comcast or Cox Communications, or EchoStar rival DirecTV.
From our offices at Connected Home Magazine, we can hear the collective cry of frustration issuing from homes everywhere. This war better lead to peace soon, or the reputations of two major companies will be irrevocably stained.
Corrections to this Article:
We recieved this message from the CEO of Dish Network today:
Dear Loyal DISH Network Customer,
I am very pleased to announce that we've successfully reached a long-term agreement with Viacom to provide you with CBS and MTV Networks including MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon. I am happy to say that this agreement will allow us to continue to provide you the lowest all-digital price everyday.
I understand that it has been a difficult 36 hours to be without these popular channels. We appreciate your patience, your support for DISH Network and your continued business.
As promised, you will receive a credit on your next billing statement. In addition, we would like to thank you for all of your support by sending you a free DISH On Demand Pay-Per-View coupon that will allow you to view upcoming hits like "Cat in the Hat" and "School of Rock." The coupon will arrive in your April billing statement. Enjoy a movie on us.
Everyone at DISH Network will continue to fight to provide the best possible programming and services at the lowest possible price, every day. Thank you for your loyalty and thank you for being a DISH Network customer.
CEO, DISH Network