Viacom Networks Remain on Dish as Talks Continue

Ergen sees path to continued carriage
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Viacom’s networks stayed on Dish Network after midnight, when an extension of the distribution agreement between the companies was set to expire.

Sources indicated that talks continued and that a resolution was in sight.

Losing distribution to Dish’s 13 million subscribers could be devastating for Viacom by cutting into sub fees and advertising revenue. That possibility is one reason why Viacom’s stock has been one of the worst performers on Wall Street among media companies.

On Dish’s first quarter earnings call, chairman Charlie Ergen said he was more hopeful a deal with Viacom could get done.

“Last week I would say my impression was I didn't see a path with Viacom. I think that the tone on both sides, both Viacom and at Dish, has been more productive through the weekend and this week, so there actually probably is a path to continue carriage, but it's not done yet. And obviously the devil’s in the details,” Ergen said.

Ergen said Dish would prefer not to lose Viacom’s networks.

“We would always overpay a little bit for content because of the disruption. But we wouldn't overpay astronomically to avoid the disruption because long term we would be in a stronger position than our competitors because we wouldn't have to raise prices to our consumers long term. Anything you do as a takedown is short term in nature if it is not the right deal,” he said.

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