Payton & Associates, LLC
Commercial Litigation Attorneys
Miami, Florida

DirecTV, Viacom business dispute affects Miami TV viewers

Miami-area DirecTV customers may be noticing several channels disappearing from their television lineup this month. The loss stems from a business dispute between DirecTV and Viacom Inc. over fees and channel broadcasting. The companies have yet to come to an agreement, and Viacom has required that DirecTV drop Viacom's channels until a resolution of the business dispute is achieved.

The two companies have had a contract for the past seven years, while DirecTV has maintained agreements with every other major distributor in the country. An executive vice president for DirecTV said that Viacom has been pushing the satellite TV provider to pay up to 30 percent more for its channels, a nearly $1 billion increase, even with plummeting ratings for the distributor's channels. Viacom insisted that DirecTV either agree to the increase or remove the channels before legal action was taken.

As a result, DirecTV dropped the channels, and more than 270,000 customers in Broward and Miami-Dade alone have been affected by the fee dispute. Additionally, Viacom has been telling viewers that the loss of channels is DirecTV's fault, though it is Viacom that demanded the channels to be dropped, according to DirectTV. DirecTV executives apparently approached Viacom with a new proposal and request to continue broadcasting the dropped channels, but Viacom has yet to respond on the matter.

When two companies are locked in a business dispute such as this, others can be affected. In Miami and other South Florida cities, customers have already begun complaining about their loss of regular programming. Consumer complaints raise the stakes for the business entities to resolve their differences as soon as possible, which typically requires the involvement of professionals experienced in handling these sophisticated negotiations.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "South Florida DirecTV customers lose MTV, Nickelodeon and more," Lisa Richwine Crandell, July 11, 2012

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