DirecTV has fired back at Viacom Inc., saying it is the programmer’s desire to force the satellite broadcaster to carry its movie channel Epix that has caused a breakdown in their negotiations for a new deal.
In a statement, DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer said the company had reached a new agreement in principle Tuesday to carry Viacom’s cable channels, including MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.
Then, Mercer said, Viacom tried to force carriage of its pay movie channel Epix as part of the contract at a cost of more than $500 million.
“We know our customers don’t want to pay such an extreme price for an extra channel,” Mercer said. “We stand ready and willing to work with Viacom to get this done and, once again, ask Viacom to do the right thing and restore these channels to our customers immediately.”
Viacom countered that Mercer’s statement is “complete fiction” and that the company has offered proposals with and without Epix.”
Earlier Wednesday, Viacom said it was walking away from the negotiating table because DirecTV had shown little flexibility in the talks.
“I really don’t see any end in sight, truthfully,” said Denise Denson, Viacom’s executive vice president of content distribution. “Nothing about negotiating with them is productive.”
DirecTV stopped carrying Viacom’s channels on the evening of July 10. Since then, the two companies have been engaged in a nasty public relations war that now shows no signs of easing up.