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TV Column
Posted at 06:22 PM ET, 07/12/2012

AMC vs. Dish, Viacom vs. DirecTV: Brawling satellite providers and cable companies take different tactics


AMC will stream “Breaking Bad” free for Dish subscribers on Sunday. (Ursula Coyote - AMC)
Satellite programming providers and cable network-owning media behemoths brawling over matters of high finance, have ripped Dora the Explorer from the arms of weeping infants, Betty White from the loving embrace of sexagenarians, and otherwise generally made a menace of themselves.

Here’s the latest.

AMC, which hasn’t been carried on Dish Network since the end of June, announced Thursday it would offer Dish subscribers the chance to stream the fifth season debut of “Breaking Bad” for free this Sunday.

“AMC wants its loyal Dish viewers to experience the excitement of the ‘Breaking Bad’ premiere at the same time as their friends and neighbors,” the network said, adding, “and we want to give Dish customers an extra week to switch providers so they can enjoy the rest of the season.”

This squabble began earlier this year when Dish, which has 14 million customers, told AMC Networks it would drop its channels because the company forces it to carry IFC and WE in order to access a handful of popular series on its AMC network. Dish dismissed the channels as too low rated.

“Hooey” responded AMC, noting its “The Walking Dead” is a cable ratings record setter, and “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” are nothing to sneer at either in the ratings department. AMC says Dish actually dropped some of viewers’ fave shows because of an unrelated lawsuit between the two companies.

Meanwhile, Viacom — parent company of Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and other cable networks — this week retaliated against DirecTV, which has dropped its networks, by pulling popular show streams from its Web sites. That includes Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and ‘The Colbert Report,” MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore,” TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland,” and Nick’s “Spongebob Squarepants” and “Dora the Explorer.”

Viacom said it pared back the number of full-length show episodes available on its Web sites because DirecTV had started marketing those web streams to its customers as the place to watch the shows while they where they are not available on DirecTV. At midnight on Tuesday, Viacom-owned networks — Comedy Central, MTV, TV Land, BET, Spike, VH1, Nickelodeon, etc. — had gone dark on DirecTV.

“VIACOM HAS PULLED THEIR CHANNELS. Now they’re blocking you from their best online content,” DirecTV raged Thursday.

DirecTV also took issue with ads Viacom had been running on Nick, warning children they were about to lose their favorite TV shows.

“It’s always wrong to have an actor or comedian say things in support of people who can make them even richer, and especially when it comes at our customers’ expense, but it’s indefensible to try to use children’s trusted cartoon characters like Dora the Explorer to try to trick and scare them,” DirecTV scolded.

Entertainment Weekly jumped on that bandwagon, interviewing the mother of a 3-year-old who said junior was in tears when he saw the commercial, asking her “I’ll never get to watch Dora again, Mommy. Why are they doing that?… I love Dora.”

Viacom wants DirecTV to pay 30 percent more in carriage fees. Viacom likes to call it a couple of pennies per day per subscriber; DirecTV prefers to call it a billion dollars in costs to DirecTV customers.

By  |  06:22 PM ET, 07/12/2012

 
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