DirectTV subscribers who want their MTV, SpongeBob SquarePants, or comedian Jon Stewart are getting their wish. Viacom and the satellite TV service provider said today that they have settled a dispute that had cut off access to 17 Viacom channels for DirectTV subscribers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Channels such as Comedy Central and Nickelodeon had been inaccessible to some 20 million DirecTV customers since July 10 as the two companies haggled over how much DirecTV should pay to carry those channels.
Viacom shut off access to full-length episodes on its own websites such as ComedyCentral.com to all visitors during the dispute, apparently in response to DirecTV telling its subscribers where they could find programs on the Internet that they could no longer watch on TV. DirecTV made it clear that it was not happy with what had transpired. "The attention surrounding this unnecessary and ill-advised blackout by Viacom ... serves notice to all media companies that bullying TV providers and their customers with blackouts won't get them a better deal," said a rep. DirecTV said it had received support from customers as well as competitors, including the American Cable Association and Time Warner Cable.