back to article Viacom to remove Time Warner's Spongebob Squarepants

Media giant Viacom is threatening to remove its 19 cable TV networks from Time Warner Cable if the operator doesn't agree to a carriage fee increase by midnight Eastern time tomorrow. Viacom's networks include MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon. In a statement released yesterday, the Sumner Redstone-run outfit said it's …


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  1. Graham Marsden

    Didn't they learn anything...

    ... from the Sky/ Virgin debacle?

    Virgin lost, Sky won, eventually Virgin had to eat humble pie. End of story.

  2. James O'Brien
    Paris Hilton

    Please? Do I really need a title?

    ""Christmas is over, but Viacom is still playing Scrooge, threatening to pull its MTV Networks off of Time Warner Cable at midnight tonight unless we ask our customers to pay exorbitant price increases,""

    Umm that exactly is an "exorbitant" price increase of a quarter? Oh wait evil empire that is TWC up where I live, $65 (+tax of course) a month for cable internet at *MAYBE* 10down/2up. Happily paying $54.90 a month (tax included) to Verizon for FiOS at 20/20 with static IP (dont ask how I managed took me about a year to wrangle this deal from them). So anyway back to the "price increase" my guess is the $.25 increase a month from Viacom translates into about $10-20 a month more from TWC. Sorry really hate TW where I live.

    /PH because shes still trying to figure out how to charge more for herself

  3. the spectacularly refined chap

    Re: Graham Marsden

    Virgin could well end up having the last laugh after that one, after it meant Virgin had to bring forward their Virgin 1 plans and dramatically improve the offering as consequences. Its viewing figures are basically on a par with Sky 1's now and given that it is a comparatively new station it must surely overtake it soon. To my eyes it is already a better channel: both are highly dependent on syndicated reruns but Virgin seems to have better new content.

    Sure, being on Freeview helps its figures but ultimately it is audiences, not platforms, that determine the success of channel.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Speaking as Time-Warne Cable customer

    I say don't pay them a bean, let the channels go and reduce my bill by $3 a month.

    I don't like any of the Viacom channels and frankly don't see why I should have to pay for channels I don't want to watch.

    Now, if you're going to provide them for free, I'll consider them, Mr. Redstone.

    Paris, because even she isn't THIS stupid.

  5. Efros
    Thumb Down

    Viacom can go suck the big one

    As a paying TWC subscriber, I would happily see the Viacom channels disappear into the great blue yonder. Seems to be a strange situation where we have to pay for a channel that generates revenue by transmitting adverts 16-18 minutes every hour, let alone having to pay for the crap that isn't advertising something, erm hang on a minute that would leave about 10% of the programming that doesn't have associated plastic crud.

  6. Eddy Ito

    Promises, promises

    Please, MTV has, for the past ten years, how can I put this politely, sucked raw sewage through a straw. Oh dear, that didn't go so well. Anyway, for the three of four shows on their other channels that aren't on par with MTV, I personally won't miss any of them. Sorry Colbert, it's true. Perhaps a deal could be reached this way, pull 79% of the networks and we'll pay 25% the current rate. It's a win-win, Viacom gets a wider profit margin on the things that aren't tubular scatological vacuums and we save a little coin in the process. ( a little better )

    Reminds me of the last CD I bought, a package of a fifteen tracks and a full dozen that ranged from "where did I leave that ice pick?" to simply horrible.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    The DNC's Youth Indoctrination Arm

    why would they let that go? It worked well cramming pro-Clinton and pro-Obama hype for the last couple decades, showing only one side of every issue (including "global warming") to children, from endless Democrat only debates on "Rock The Vote" to Obama "ads" from children following the Party Line, to a majority of people who think a comedienne's words on a skit belong to the politician herself.

    Do they worry the dogs of hate they created, the "comedy" backstabbing and the constant indoctrination of children might turn against them? The decades of children raised on one point of view from their parents using the TV as a babysitter, till they were old enough to vote, with the sly mentions of spin, the "comedic" references to outright lies which unsubtly tried to bypass slander laws, to "entertainment" which happened to often show musical acts with a "surprise" visit by some DNC member or DNC sponsored cause-did they worry this tool could be used against them some day in the future?

    From Nickelodeon as babies, to MTV in their "rebellious" youth, to Comedy Central as they were "hip" young adults voting for the first or second time. One political side only given respectful airtime. From the Cradle to the Grave, the same as Democrats like their government.

  8. PushF12

    here comes the AppleTV

    Comedy Central, which is being cut, carries Stewart and Colbert. These two shows are consistently top-ten in regular ratings and in iTunes sales, so they have enough pull to get people to try things like the AppleTV (or Xbox 360) if they fall off cable broadcast.

    Dumb move for both Viacom and Time Warner. Apple and Microsoft are both worse partners.

  9. Tom Maddox Silver badge


    @AC 21:25: Sounds like someone needs to up his meds and maybe tighten his tinfoil hat a little.

  10. Stephen


    i was surprised to find out most of the channels i watch are owned by viacom...

    TWC will lose me as a tv customer if my service is interrupted, there is always the cheaper directTV or torrents if it comes down to it... i never liked the company anyway.

  11. James O'Shea

    Let 'em die

    Those channels can all vanish so far as I'm concerned. In fact, there are a bunch more which can be cut without affecting me in the least.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Channel BT FTW

    "Dumb move for both Viacom and Time Warner. Apple and Microsoft are both worse partners."

    Forgive me for mentioning....oh wait, don't bother, couldn't give a toss anyway, but why bother paying for cable TV when EVERYTHING is available on channel BT for nix? Apple and MS don't even rate. Taking Spongebob as an example, pay for cable tv to see reruns? Download the entire series overnight for nothing? Oooh, guess who wins.

    Surely these "media" companies can see the writing on the wall, but it occurrs to me that they can't even see the wall let alone the writing. I dumped my Foxtel last year after realising I was paying for 100 channels and actually watched 6 of em, pointless waste of money. This business model is going to die, and sooner rather than later the way they behave, and good riddance I say.

    But to clarify, I have no problem paying for TV shows I want to watch, but I can't without paying for 900 that I hate or detest and never watch. I would pay a reasonable amount per episode for non-DRM'd material, which at least is something, as opposed to the nothing they get from me now!

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Breaking news!! Freetards rejoice!!

    Hulu, Joost and Veoh. You can find the Stewart / Colbert twins are on Hulu as well as several other "top rated" Viacom shows. Now how much are you willing to pay for the same content on an inconvenient schedule set by some stuffed shirt?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Coward

    Are you feeling OK?

  15. Stephen
    Thumb Up

    12:01pm EST

    channels still intact...

  16. Stephen Sherry

    With the economic downturn...

    Its the only way big businesses can keep the investors happy, all the talk about what ifs makes investors shiver in excitement. With digital airwaves coming soon I think that is the market viacom will go to, since it will actually have a broader base of advertising viewers, and cable tends to charge like they have a monopoly or something ;P oh wait... Plus, aside from a few channels, they could only give MTV away for free now since it's about as music as a badly produced teen movie. There's gonna be a lot of inter corporate threats coming, this is just one of the first after yahoo got started with it's insane "doesn't know what to do, follow the market slobbery, or stay dedicated to their users". Such hard decisions, I wonder which win over the long term, maybe companies are looking to that more than short term gains, and maybe I'm OD'ing on crack. This next year is going to be chaos for TV/Dish/Cable, though considering how slow the change really is, it's hard to not think they are just playing us for more money we don't have and just settle with the free-ish digital-tv. Though this whole thing has been going on for so long (dish vs. cable vs. broadcaste vs. streaming tv on the net) and all of the broadcasters are playing with all the tech. I just think they are confused and the consumer isn't picking one over the other, and until they are forces to choose one then this fake controversy will continue. It'll happen in 2009 guaranteed, I'm willing to bet money on it.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spongebob Brainkiller

    I've had to suffer a few "episodes" of Spongeblah Squarepants with my nephews - how the hell can they watch that cr@p? "Pants" is right.

    And to any idiot who thinks "oh a few more cents a month won't hurt me", what will you do in a few months time when they say "well actually we neeed just a little bit more now", then repeat every quarter? Remember they get your few cents, plus everyone else's who subscribe, and pretty soon those 'few cents' add up to more money than many people make in a lifetime.

    Did none of you see Richard Pryor in Superman II, FFS?

  18. prathlev

    @AC 17:39

    That was Superman III. And Spongebob is funny. Or at least his pet snail is. At least the "meowing" sound under water. :-)

  19. skeptical i

    MTV Get Off the Air

    "[MTV's] job is to help destroy

    What's left of your imagination

    By feeding you endless doses

    Of sugar-coated mindless garbage"

    -- Dead Kennedys, "MTV Get Off the Air"

    I would respectfully suggest that TWC and other cable operators go to an a la carte ordering system (I'll take _History Channel_ from list A, _Comedy Central_ from list B, and for dessert some _Discovery_ for the kiddos) and let customers decide whether the higher prices for Viacom content are worth it. I suspect enough customers are tired of paying insane monthly fees for content bundles that are 80+ percent crap in order to get the scant handful of channels that are worth a rat's, and this latest Mexican standoff might send more folks elsewhere to get the stuff they want.

  20. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Ahh I remember TV..... to air of course. Haven't watched it in years now. There's no point.

    I can't ever imagine *paying* to watch TV. What an odd concept!! Paying... LOL.

    Still, it takes all kinds of people to run an economy.

  21. David Saylock

    Television A La Carte

    I've been wanting this sort of system for years. I'd rather pay for the channels I know that I am going to watch rather than the 60 that I won't. Honestly, I could not care less about such wonderful networks as TBN, MTV and their comparable bed buddies. I'm of the same opinion when it comes to sports packages. Unlike some people, I primarily only watch the games in which teams I am truly interested are playing and have no need for the other channels that feature the other teams. I'd even pay good money for this.

    Mine's the one with only remote in the right pocket.

  22. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Pay vs. Free TV

    At the risk of starting a major flamewar, I think that some of the people commenting about reducing what they pay for TV should look at who actually pays to have new material created.

    There are basically four models for paying for content.

    1. Public funding

    2. Subscription charging

    3. Advertising

    4. Charity/Sponsorship

    Please note that there is a significant overlap between the last two (company sponsored programming). And I am aware that there is a divide between the content creators and the carriers.

    In the UK, we are fortunate to have a publicly funded broadcaster who has money to commission good content (catagory 1). This means that some of the rating chasing necessary to attract the diminishing advertising revenue is not necessary, and gives the programme makers some leaway. This is what pays for much of the BBC's output, and a significant part of what appears on the free and pay channels Discovery and the UKTV channels carried on Sky, Virgin and Freeview/Freesat.

    But the rest is a mismash, mostly catagory 2 and 3. If costs go up (as they do), then either advertising revenue has to increase, or subscription charges go up. Ditto loss of advertising.

    But consider this. Let's say that the ratings on cable/satellite go down. The deals with the advertisers are based on numbers of views of the adverts, so advertising revenues go down. So subscription fees must go up (especially if ratings reductions are a result of lost subscribers). This is also what must happen if the subscriptions become more specific, allowing customers to select their exact package. The alternative is that the amount of newly comissioned material goes down, anfd all we get are repeats, which are cheap.

    I'm sure the model is subject to tweaking, but if you want a good selection of new programming, which must include subjectivly good and bad material (everyone has their own preferences, like I don't like SpongeBob), then you must expect to pay for material you don't like.

    Like may things, it is a compromise, a bit like democracy. Some of you just want something for nothing.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    @ac - The DNC's Youth Indoctrination Arm

    Dear Arsehole,

    Please go back on your meds and remember to use all caps when flaming.

    Thank you.

    Anyone remember when cable first started with the promise of "no commercials" and wide variety of great programming? Then it got to "lots of commercials" and crap programming. So what's the point?

    From what I read, the increase they were looking for was around US $2.50-2.75 a month per customer. Hardly pennies for the tripe they spew.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Spongebob and Dora...

    No self-respecting geek would want to be caught watching those. Spongebob is extremely annoying and daft and Dora the Explorer is an insult to intelligence. If one repeats something to me a dozen times, I'd probably had snap and break someone's neck by the sixth time the message is being repeated. Plus, the repetitions are often accompanied with the world's most annoying singing ever.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Yet just another example...

    of why the FCC needs to mandate al la carte pricing on cable. That way, we can only pay for the channels we want, and not have to subsidize crap like the Home Shopping Network and other garbage channels.

  26. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: Virgin 1

    I'm sorry? Is there a completely different Virgin 1 out there to the one that I receive that I haven't been told about?

    I think I watched something on it the other day. Can't remember what it was. All I recall is being pissed off by how Virgin's legendary tightfistedness extended to buying an even narrower pipe from Sky than "movies24" and their ilk, resulting in an impressive display of how MPEG artefacts over piss-poor links.

    Maybe one day they'll get something to put on that's interesting enough to make me want to put up with this shit, but there's nothing right now.

    It may well be true that amongst cable subscribers Virgin 1's viewing figures are getting close to Sky 1's, but I can't see that being true once you factor the Satellite figures in.

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