DirecTV and Viacom can't even agree on how far apart they are in the dispute keeping Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and other Viacom stations from DirecTV customers.
In a statement Wednesday, Viacom said DirecTV has refused to come to an agreement and that the two sides aren't even close to a deal. In its own statement, DirecTV said Viacom held up a potential deal Tuesday by demanding DirecTV "carry the EPIX channel at an additional cost of more than half a billion dollars."
Viacom representatives told TheWrap that wasn't the case. In fact, they said, Viacom President and CEO Philippe Dauman personally offered a compromise proposal to DirecTV president and CEO Michael White last week at the Sun Valley media conference. He has not heard from White since, Viacom said.
DirecTV declined to comment on the talks between the CEOs.
Denise Denson, Viacom Inc.'s executive vice president of content distribution, told TheWrap that DirecTV "couldn't seem less interest in finding a conclusion to this negotiation." She added that Viacom had "never seen this before" in negotiations with other companies.
DirecTV, meanwhile, said Viacom's characterization of the current negotiations is "completely inaccurate."
The company said Viacom made a proposal Tuesday night that would have returned the channels that are being denied DirecTV's 20 million customers and that DirecTV "accepted all material terms for those channels including an increase that was more than fair."
DirecTV pointedly added: "We are ready to close this deal at any time and restore those channels to our customers."
But Viacom's EPIX stipulation wrecked the deal, DirecTV said. Viacom denied it.
Viacom said it made a "significant and comprehensive compromise proposal" to DirecTV on Thursday that could have restored the channels by Friday. (It appears from the timing that this may have been the compromise offered by Dauman.)
"Unfortunately, DIRECTV has moved backwards significantly and created more obstacles to reaching an agreement," Viacom said in a statement.
The dueling versions of reality come a day after what appeared to be a possible olive branch by Viacom: It began posting online clips of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" and "Colbert Report" after taking down clips last week, at the time that DirecTV stopped airing Viacom channels.
The decision to take down the clips seemed like a technique to pressure DirecTV by denying fans of the shows an online fix of "The Daily Show" and "Colbert." That might have driven them to contact DirecTV and demand their channels back, as Viacom has urged customers to do.
Though DirecTV applauded Viacom's move to restore the clips online Tuesday, the good feelings had evaporated by Wednesday.
The Viacom channels were dropped last week in a dispute that began with Viacom seeking an increase in the fees it receives from DirecTV.
DirecTV said Viacom is seeking a 30 percent increase — equaling more than a billion dollars that would be passed on to customers. Viacom argues the fee increases would come to "pennies a day."
Here are the latest statements from both companies:
We made a significant and comprehensive compromise proposal to DIRECTV last Thursday that could have resulted in restoring all of our services to DIRECTV subscribers by Friday morning. We have since made several additional compromise proposals – even as recently as last night – to find a resolution acceptable to DIRECTV.
Unfortunately, DIRECTV has moved backwards significantly and created more obstacles to reaching an agreement.
Rather than fulfill its promise to subscribers for a quick resolution of this negotiation, it now appears that DIRECTV will continue to purposefully and indefinitely deprive its subscribers of MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, TV Land, VH1, Spike, CMT and 18 other Viacom channels.
We sympathize with frustrated DIRECTV customers and hope that they will take advantage of the services of the many alternate distributors throughout the U.S. that continue to make Viacom’s popular networks available.
Viacom’s current statement on our negotiations is completely inaccurate. They made a proposal last night for our carriage of the 17 channels they pulled from DIRECTV and we accepted all material terms for those channels including an increase that was more than fair. We are ready to close this deal at any time and restore those channels to our customers. However, as part of that offer, Viacom insists that we carry the EPIX channel at an additional cost of more than half a billion dollars.
We know our customers don’t want to pay such an extreme price for an extra channel, they simply want the ones they had returned to them. We stand ready and willing to work with Viacom to get this done and, once again, ask Viacom to do the right thing and restore these channels to our customers immediately.