The National Cable Television Cooperative's and MTV
Networks' efforts to settle a lawsuit derailed last week, according to sources
familiar with the situation.
As a result, it looks like the NCTC's
breach-of-contract suit against MTVN may have to proceed to trial, despite the efforts of
both sides to avoid litigation.
After a series of talks and meetings during the past few
months, the NCTC and MTVN had negotiated and closed a settlement agreement Oct. 9,
according to sources.
But MTVN officials came back last week and wanted to make
changes to the settlement, which wasn't acceptable to the co-op, those sources said.
It's unclear what will happen now. The NCTC declined
to comment last week.
An MTVN spokeswoman said, "We're still in
discussions with the NCTC. It's not settled."
MTVN last Wednesday had been scheduled to file answering
papers to the lawsuit that the NCTC filed against it in June in U.S. District Court in
Kansas City, Kan.
But the company had gotten a postponement so that it could
work on a settlement with the co-op.
In its suit, the NCTC charged that a license-fee increase
that MTVN levied -- which raised Nickelodeon's rate 17 percent over a one-year span,
as well as increasing penetration requirements for license-fee discounts -- violated its
affiliation agreement with the programmer.
The co-op, based in Lenexa, Kan., represents small and
midsized cable operators totaling about 8.5 million subscribers, in effect acting as an
MSO in an attempt to win volume discounts for its members.