TCU Daily Skiff Wednesday, March 10, 2004
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Cable killed the music video star
DISH Network removes all Viacom channels from its network after a contract dispute, forcing TCU to lose seven cable channels.

By Braden Howell
Associate Editor


I want my MTV ... back.

The network, in addition to six others, was removed from the TCU Cable service as a result of a monetary standoff between media giants EchoStar Communication Corp. and Viacom Inc., said Travis Cook, director of business services for TCU Connect.

Nationally, EchoStar’s DISH Network, which is TCU’s cable TV provider, pulled the plug on MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, BET, and local CBS affiliates.

However, fans of March Madness — which is scheduled to be broadcast on CBS — can rest easy.

“CBS is not an issue for us because we receive CBS through an off-air company, not DISH Network,” Cook said.

He said the channels no longer available on TCU Cable are MTV, MTV2, Nick at Nite, Comedy Central, C-Span, BET, and VH1.

While an estimated 1.6 million customers on DISH Network across the country were affected, the network provides cable service to the 2,800 students living in the residence halls, and all other rooms on campus, said Roger Fisher, director of residential services.

By Tuesday afternoon, some students were already frustrated with the void left by the loss of the stations.

“There’s no Comedy Central,” said freshman economics major Liz Rozyskie. “I’m pretty sure they (DISH Network) can handle a small rate increase, but either way they should leave the decision to the subscribers. They just made the decision for us.”

While the two media companies continue to work for a resolution, Cook said DISH Network agreed to add four channels to the TCU Cable service — Disney, Toon Disney, WAM!, and Fuse — to help compensate for the lost channels.

Cook said he did not know how long it would be before DISH Network restores the stations to their network, but said if the outage continues for long enough, the university would make arrangements to return the lost channels to the TCU cable service.

“A decision would come from the Don Mills area, but our only alternative would be to bring in a secondary provider, and that would raise our rates tremendously,” Cook said. “That is an absolute last resort though because we would have to fund it.”

DISH Network dropped Viacom’s channels from its network as the result of a contract dispute between the two companies. Viacom and EchoStar began sparring after a contract for the DISH Network to broadcast Viacom channels expired Dec. 31. The contract was extended at least three times, voluntarily and by court orders. The latest court order for the programming to continue expired at the overnight deadline.

A statement issued by Viacom after the 3 a.m. EST contract deadline passed urged EchoStar customers to stop subscribing to the DISH Network.

“Current EchoStar-DISH Network subscribers who would like to continue receiving BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, and all our other channels can easily switch,” spokeswoman Susan Duffy said in a statement after the channels were turned off.

DISH also posted an announcement about the cancellation on its Web site, along with a plea for consumers to call CBS.

“DISH Network will always have a place for CBS and we're willing to pay for retransmission rights, but Viacom is holding the public airwaves hostage, trying to extract concessions and higher rates on programming unrelated to CBS,” EchoStar chairman Charles Ergen said in a statement released as the deadline for the cancellation approached.

DISH customers in markets in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Minneapolis, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Denver, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Salt Lake City, Green Bay, Wis., and Austin lost their local CBS affiliate programs as well.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Affected channels

MTV 12
MTV2 46
Nickelodeon 18
Comedy Central 32
BET 41
VH1 43
C-Span 37
New Temporary Channels
Station Channel
Toon Disney 18
Fuse 12
*Disney
*WAM!
*Should have a channel by noon today

 
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