Sunday, December 10, 2017
Business

Viacom warns Spectrum customers could lose their services

A dispute between two cable industry conglomerates could threaten your ability to watch South Park, Being Mary Jane and Catfish: The TV Show.

Viacom, which owns 23 cable channels including BET, Comedy Central and MTV, put out a statement Wednesday that it was at a standstill in contract renewal negotiations with Charter Communications, which also markets itself as Spectrum. Viacom said it has made "a series of very attractive offers" to Charter, which has turned them down.

If a deal isn't met by Sunday's contract expiration date, it's possible that the 23 channels could go dark.

"Despite our efforts, Charter continues to insist on unreasonable and extreme terms that are totally inconsistent with the market," Viacom said in its statement. "While we're making every effort to reach a new deal, Charter's actions may force a disruption in their service."

Viacom states its offers would lower rates for customers.

Charter spokesman Joe Durkin declined to comment.

Charter came to the Tampa Bay area in 2016 after it acquired Bright House Networks. In August, there were reports of Charter possibly getting bought by Japanese telecommunication company SoftBank Group Corp., which owns Sprint Corp.

Charter has a market capitalization of $119 billion and another $60 billion in debt.

By Wednesday night, Viacom began running "crawls," notifying customers they could lose channels at the bottom of the screen. The messages also tell customers that they should contact Spectrum about the possible loss.

Contact Melissa Gomez at mgomez@tampabay.com. Follow @melissagomez004.

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