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Things are getting ugly in satellite television.
Barring a last-minute save, DIRECTV (NYSE: DTV ) customers will have to do without SpongeBob, Snooki, and Stephen Colbert. Viacom (NYSE: VIA ) has roughly two dozen channels on DIRECTV -- from Nickelodeon to MTV to Comedy Central -- that were slated to go dark today.
Satellite and cable subscribers know the deal. Networks and broadcasters want more money, and the providers are afraid that customers will bolt if their bills get any bigger.
DISH Network (Nasdaq: DISH ) viewers have been without AMC Network's (Nasdaq: AMCX ) channels for weeks. We're talking about AMC, IFC, and WE among AMC's offerings. If you don't think that's a big loss, good luck telling that to DISH fans of critic's fave Breaking Bad.
The fifth season of the show kicks off on Sunday, and AMC is getting creative. It's offering hundreds of viewers what it calls a Breaking Bad Party Kit, as long as they invite DISH Network customers to watch the show's season premiere with them.
These disputes happen often, but isn't it time for couch potatoes to stop being held for ransom? Let folks pick the channels they watch. Let the laws of supply and demand dictate what the networks can charge, giving the satellite television companies and cable providers a set piece of the action.
It's inevitable. It's where things are ultimately heading. End these disputes between providers and broadcasters. Let the real battle begin, with consumers treated as something other than collateral damage in an archaic battle that just doesn't make sense these days.
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