July 12th, 2012
11:40 AM ET
Right before midnight on July 10, 17 Viacom-owned cable channels on DirecTV went dark for nearly 20 million of the satellite distributor's subscribers, the fallout of a dispute between the two companies when they failed to reach an agreement on programming fees.
A seven-year deal between Viacom and DirecTV ended last week, and after they failed to agree on new terms, DirecTV viewers tuned into channels like Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and BET on Wednesday only to find they’d been cut off.
The 17 cut channels include MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, VH1, Spike, CMT, TV Land and NickToons. That means an outage of shows like "Tosh.O," "Workaholics," "The Soul Man," "Awkward," "Love and Hip Hop" and "Teen Wolf."
The blackout is prompting stars to get on Twitter, and they’re asking their fans to demand that DirecTV and Viacom settle their dispute and bring back favorite programs.
As Comedy Central’s Blake Anderson tweeted, “Workaholics and DIRECTV officially have beef.”
Patrick Patterson of the Houston Rockets also vented to his 62,000 followers, “Thank you #Viacom for ruining my Direct-Tv experience.”
Khloe Kardashian, whose family reality show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" airs on the E! network and isn't off the air due to the blackout, nonetheless was irritated by the resulting loss of access.
"I love to know I'm not the only one who is annoyed by this... So many of you guys are irritated too," Kardashian posted. "SpongeBob I will miss you!"
Daniel Tosh remained hopeful, tweeting, "lets all pray this viacom/directv beef gets squashed by next week."
And, like many annoyed parents whose young ones won't be pleased with the loss of kids' programming, comedian and actress Wanda Sykes tweeted, "Hey DirectTv, how am I going to explain to my kids that they can't watch "BubbleGuppies?" They don't know Viacom."
The battle between these two media companies once again calls attention to the business strategies of television distributors and programmers, and the ambiguous questions of carrier fees, bundling of channels and online streaming in a changing media landscape. The lack of solution and resulting DirecTV blackout may seem a bit apocalyptic to the celebs whose shows have gone dark, as well as their loyal fans.
How has the blackout affected you? Sound off below.
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