DirecTV Offers Free Access To Extra-Pay Channels As Talks With Viacom Continue

DirecTV has started to offer the services to all of its 20M subscribers while negotiations proceed slowly to resume carriage of the 17 Viacom channels that went dark late Tuesday. DirecTV says it is providing eight Encore premium channels as well as services that had been in extra-pay tiers — including PBS Sprout, The Hub, TV One, and Fuse — as substitutes for Viacom channels such as Nickelodeon, BET, and MTV. (Interestingly, Comcast is a part owner of PBS Sprout and TV One.) The satellite company says that it hopes the replacements will “help offset some of the inconvenience this [dispute] has caused.” But consumers shouldn’t expect a resolution soon. Viacom has made a major buy of radio ad time across all major U.S. cities through Sunday. “Rather than ramp up the propaganda in newspaper ads and radio spots,” DirecTV says, Viacom should “grow up” and help to “get the channels back on the air without an unfair increase to customer bills.” Viacom declined to comment on its radio plans. DirecTV is also said to have bought airtime on five Clear Channel stations tomorrow, with the message to be determined.

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