The debate is over a fee increase Viacom proposed to DirecTV. According to Bloomberg, Viacom is proposing a 30 percent fee increase -- about $1 billion in additional costs over five years. Failing to reach a deal, DirecTV late Tuesday dropped Viacom's channels.
The message for its nearly 20 million subscribers, according to Entertainment Weekly, was: "Viacom, the owner of this channel, forced DirecTV to suspend it despite our many requests to keep it on. We are working to bring it back as soon as possible without an unfair increase to your bill. Disruptions like this are brief. Go to DirecTVPromise.com for the latest info."
Meanwhile, try to watch an episode of The Daily Show online, and you'll find this note: "DirecTV dropped 26 of your channels!" Comedy Central was not immediately available for comment.
In a blog post early Wednesday, Viacom released a statement saying DirecTV "refused to engage in meaningful conversation" on the fee increase. "We are hopeful that DirecTV will work with us toward a resolution, and stop denying its subscribers access to the networks they watch most."
DirecTV CEO Mike White told Bloomberg this week that his company offered Viacom a "hefty" increase. "We always said we'll pay a fair price consistent with other large distributors," he added. While talks are ongoing, White said the two companies remain "pretty far apart."