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Viacom says talks with DirecTV have broken down

A top executive at Viacom said Wednesday that talks with DirecTV over a new agreement have broken down.

In an interview, Denise Denson, Viacom Inc.'s executive vice president of content distribution, said the media giant was no longer in negotiations with DirecTV Inc. over a deal to return its cable networks to the satellite broadcaster’s service.

“I really don’t see any end in sight, truthfully,” Denson said. DirecTV stopped carrying Viacom channels on the evening of July 10, leaving 20 million subscribers without Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and other popular networks.

Viacom, Denson said, has made several offers to DirecTV and all have been rebuffed.

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“They have not ever engaged in negotiations,” she said, adding that while the satellite company is telling people it is standing up for its customers, in reality “they are making a statement to their investors and shareholders.”

Since the channels have come off of DirecTV, ratings for Viacom’s networks have dropped. Denson said the company will begin aggressively encouraging rival distributors to use the presence of Viacom’s channels in their lineups as a marketing tool to lure DirecTV subscribers.

DirecTV has said that the long-term deal Viacom is seeking is an increase of $1 billion over the previous agreement. Viacom’s Denson said, “The number is significantly less than that.”

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