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Tentative agreement reached: Local providers ‘hopeful’ new deal will keep Viacom channels on the air

Cable television subscribers in Jamestown and the surrounding area are waiting to see what will happen with negotiations between Viacom and the National Cable Television Cooperative.

Viacom is a company which provides television channels MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and others to cable television companies. Viacom sought an increase in the fees it charges to cable companies to show Viacom’s channels on those cable companies’ systems.

The existing agreement between Viacom and the NCTC was scheduled to expire on March 31. But, the two sides agreed to continue negotiations passed the March 31 deadline. Viacom has allowed the NCTC’s member cable companies to continue broadcasting Viacom’s channels while the negotiations continue.

Both Cable Services, Inc., and Dakota Central Telecommunications, are members of the NCTC. Broadcasts of Viacom channels are continuing on CSi and DCT.

Roy Sheppard, owner and president of CSi said Wednesday there was a tentative agreement reached between Viacom and the NCTC. But NCTC members have to review the agreement themselves and evaluate the offer, according to Sheppard. CSi offers cable television and Internet services in Jamestown and Valley City.

The core of the negotiation, according to Sheppard, is that Viacom wants to charge more to provide its channels to cable companies.

‘This is part of the process that cable companies and providers go through,” Sheppard said. “We’re cautiously hopeful something can be worked out, we haven’t seen what the new proposal is.”

CSi carries what Sheppard calls the core seven channels that Viacom offers: Spike, Nickelodeon, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, VH1 and TV Land. Viacom offers up to 24 channels

CSi cable subscribers have seen announcements recently on Viacom channels asking subscribers to call CSi and ask the cable company to keep the Viacom channels.

Sheppard said he would like to see this matter resolved so he can provide a better answer for when customers call asking about what is going on with the Viacom channels.

On Tuesday Viacom released a statement on Cable One, a cable television provider in Fargo, which dropped the 15 Viacom channels it carried on Monday. Cable One is a member of NCTC, but had been negotiating on its own agreement with Viacom.

DCT also offers cable television service in the Jamestown and Carrington areas. Holly Utke, chief of marketing and internal operations for DCT, said the company is waiting to see what the proposed agreement is between Viacom and the NCTC.

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at colson@jamestownsun.com

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454
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