EchoStar Dumps Viacom Channels – For Now

[This item was originally posted to The Media Drop]

Last night I was flipping channels and was spending some time on BET and MTV2 watching some videos for a bit, and a crawl came across a couple times saying that some channels, including those I was watching “might” be removed from the air. It began “Attention EchoStar and DISH Network customers…”

I didn’t really think anything of it, and thought it was one of those things that comes about when there is a contract dispute going on, but never really comes to fruition.

Then I read this article a few minutes ago about how EchoStar has dropped its local CBS channels, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon channels from its broadcast. Ugh.

Only a week and one day from the first game of the NCAA tournament, and no CBS for these customers. Will it be enough to get people to drop DISH and move to DirecTV and cable? Let’s see how long it lasts. Cablevision had issues with the New York Yankee-owned YES network a couple years back, and left Yankee fans unable to watch their team for quite some time. Reportedly Cablevision lost quite a few customers to satellite providers at that time. Could the reverse happen here – or at the very least, defection to DirecTV?

[update 10:14pm 3/9/04] The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Viacom and EchoStar “are pretty close to an agreement in principle,” as per EchoStar’s Chairman Charles Ergen earlier today.

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