Less than a week after yanking full episodes of its popular programming from its Web sites, a move that some saw as directly related to its ongoing carriage fight with DirecTV, Viacom has quietly reinstated the shows. And though that could be a sign that both sides are beginning to soften in their dispute, a deal still appears to be far off.
"We are still in discussions; working hard to get a deal done," said DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer.
Viacom pulled its 17 networks (26 if you count the respective HD feeds) from DirecTV on July 10 after the two sides could not reach agreement on pricing. On July 11, Viacom blocked access to full episodes of The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, SpongeBob SquarePants and other shows on its respective websites, a move the company said at the time was in part related to DirecTV's efforts to inform customers of online alternatives during the dispute. The programmer continued to offer hundreds of older episodes online.
Interested Web surfers could still find full-episodes of The Daily Show, et. al, on video website Hulu, which has its own deal with the programmer that is not tied to Viacom's respective web sites.
In a statement, Viacom said the decision to bring back The Daily Show and Colbert coincided with their return to new episodes.
"We hope this is helpful to our fans with DirecTV who have yet to switch to a cable/satellite provider that carries Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, BET and all our 26 networks," Viacom said.