Suddenlink's negotiations with Viacom hit snag

By by Dianna Wray
Dec. 30, 2010 at 6:30 a.m.

For most people, midnight on New year's Eve will be a time for new beginnings. It could mark an end of sorts for the relationship between Suddenlink Communications and the media company Viacom.

Contract negotiations between Suddenlink and New York-based Viacom have entered troubled waters, with Viacom asking for an increase of more than 20 percent in its fees for the use of its channels, such as Comedy Central, TV Land, MTV and Nickelodeon.

Suddenlink has protested Viacom's offers stating that they have told company representatives that their recent offers are "neither fair nor reasonable."

The current contract is set to expire midnight Friday.

Pete Abel, Suddenlink senior vice president of corporate communications, said they still hope to reach an agreement with Viacom.

Abel said Suddenlink also balked at the contract because Viacom demanded that Suddenlink pay for a new channel, Epix, an R-rated channel that Suddenlink customers have not requested.

Abel said the companies discussed paying for select channels, like Nickelodeon, but was told the cost of just one channel would be more than the company currently pays for seven channels.

Viacom is the only provider for these channels. While the company can't get these channels from any other company, Abel said they would look for comparable channels to replace them with.

Suddenlink, a St. Louis-based company, provides cable, Internet and phone service to many people in the Crossroads area and almost 500,000 people in the state.

The company provides service to 1.3 million customers across the country.

Abel said it is against company policy to release the number of customers they service in a community.

Numerous attempts via phone and e-mail were made to contact Viacom Communications representatives, but the calls and e-mails were not returned.



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