DirecTV, which is my primary home TV provider, and Viacom, the parent company of Comedy Central and a variety of other networks, are playing a game of chicken.
These standoffs, involving a variety of cable and satellite companies and programming providers, have become more and more common in recent years. Each one is basically a business negotiation between two companies.—DirecTV is offering X amount of money for Viacom’s channels, while Viacom insists that the channels are worth Y. If they can’t haggle out a price by the time the current contract expires, the channels may end up being taken away from DirecTV viewers, at least temporarily.
But the companies try to play a blame game and bring public opinion into the matter. Each side – using ads, TV screen crawls, websites and what have you – tries to tell consumers that the other side is trying to take away the consumer’s favorite channels. One side sometimes tries to urge consumers to call the other side and complain.
The fact of the matter is, I’m not a TV executive. I have no idea whether the price DirecTV is offering or the price Viacom is asking is closer to fair. Frankly, I get a little annoyed that both sides try to pull me, the innocent viewer, into their dispute.
I do hope something can be worked out. It’s true that I can watch “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report” for free at their respective websites the day after they air. In fact, that’s what I did a few weeks ago when my TV wasn’t working. But we’re currently in the middle of a new season of “Futurama,” and I’m not sure whether that’s online anywhere for free.