In the latest back-and-forth on the Viacom-DirecTV carriage standoff -- now in its ninth day -- the media company said in a statement late Wednesday that DirecTV's claim Viacom demanded the satellite operator carry Epix for half a billion dollars is "one more complete work of fiction from the company."
DirecTV issued a press release Wednesday that said "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."
Viacom responded that DirecTV's characterization of the discussions over Epix was false.
"We've offered DirecTV various compromise proposals -- proposals without Epix, proposals with Epix, and proposals with significant incentives to carry Epix," Viacom said. "DirecTV did not accept all material terms for our channels, nor are we asking for a sum of $500 million for Epix. Nothing in the press release reflects the reality of the negotiations, which, sadly, are at an impasse."
On July 10, Viacom forced DirecTV to drop its 17 networks, including Comedy Central, MTV, BET and Nickelodeon, from the operator's 19.9 million U.S. customers after the companies could not reach an agreement on fees.
Viacom said the increase it is asking for from DirecTV amounts to only "a couple pennies" per subscriber per day, while the satellite operator says Viacom is asking for a 30% rate increase, amounting to $1 billion over the term of the agreement. Last week Viacom pulled access to dozens of free full-length episodes on its websites -- citing DirecTV's efforts to direct customers to online alternatives for watching the programmer's shows -- before restoring many of them on Tuesday.