Suddenlink, CBS Reach Carriage Deal

Will Carry Smithsonian Channel as Part of Deal
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While its negotiations with cable giant Viacom appear to be going to the wire, Suddenlink Communications said Tuesday that it has reached a carriage deal with CBS, agreeing to carry its CBS broadcast stations as well as cable networks CBS Sports Network and the Smithsonian Channel.

“We are very pleased with this new agreement,” Suddenlink senior vice president and chief programming officer Kathy Payne said in a statement. “CBS continues to deliver quality programming, and our customers indicate they enjoy its top-rated shows, news, and sports.”

The tone of the CBS agreement seems to be a bit different from negotiations with the broadcaster’s former parent, Viacom. Suddenlink’s deal with the home of MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon expires at 11:59 p.m. tonight and no deal seems to be on the Horizon. On its website, Suddenlinkonyourside.com, Suddenlink has said that Viacom is asking for a 50% increase in affiliate fees although some of its networks have experienced ratings declines of as much as 30%. Viacom counters that its networks are among the most watched by Suddenlink customers and that the rates it is proposing for all 24 of its networks combined is less than what the cable operator agreed to pay for one network – ESPN – in its last carriage deal with The Walt Disney Co.

Suddenlink is telling its customers in the event of a Viacom blackout, it will offer customers a suite of additional networks to take up that slack. While that will vary among systems, the MSO has identified Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Sprout, Investigation: Discovery, The Blaze and Up!, as Oct. 1 replacements for the Viacom channels.

In its CBS agreement, Suddenlink agreed to carry an additional CBS network – Smithsonian Channel, to the majority of its customers.   

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement that recognizes the value of the quality programming across our portfolio which includes not only the CBS Television Network but also CBS Sports Network and for the first time on Suddenlink’s systems, Smithsonian Channel,” said CBS president television networks distribution Ray Hopkins in a statement. “Suddenlink offers a terrific proposition for its consumers; we look forward to continuing and expanding our relationship with them.”

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