Suddenlink serves communities in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia. Suddenlink is in a dispute with Viacom. From Multichannel News
With the contract set to expire on Dec. 31, Suddenlink alerted its subscribers that Viacom wants a 20% hike in overall programming costs as part of a package that would include movie service Epix.
On its Web site, Suddenlink told its customers that it continues to negotiate with Viacom, reminding its subscriber base that the contract concludes at midnight on Dec. 31.
"Unfortunately, despite a challenging economic environment, Viacom wants a more than 20% overall increase in what they are paid, which includes significant payment for a new network with R-rated programming that our customers have not requested and may not want," wrote Suddenlink.
Viacom declined to comment.
Suddenlink has added a new wrinkle on their bill. On their website they explain their Broadcast Station Surcharge as follows:
Suddenlink customers may notice a “broadcast station surcharge” on their bills. That surcharge reflects the charges levied by the owners of broadcast TV stations.
Unlike cable TV networks, broadcast TV stations distribute their signals over the air, using free spectrum granted to them by the federal government. In effect, taxpayers subsidize the distribution of broadcast TV signals. These same broadcast TV stations are then allowed by the government to charge for their signals — and if we don’t agree to pay, broadcasters can force us to drop their channels.
It’s all part of a process known as “retransmission consent.”
Unfortunately, a number of broadcasters have become very aggressive, pressing for increasingly larger payments. While this situation has resulted in the surcharge on customer bills, we pledge not to profit from that surcharge. We will make sure we do not collect more from the surcharge than we pay to the owners of broadcast TV stations.
That approach at least focuses the source of price increases due to Congress allowing federally licensed broadcast stations to charge. As this retransmission thing gets out of hand, perhaps our satellite companies could bill by DMA listing what they have to pay for each block of stations owned by one owner.
You could then send your bill to your favorite Congressman who can repay you out of the millions donated by the broadcast business to reelection campaigns in return for legalizing this thievery.