Media Moguls in Idaho Debate Blackout of SpongeBob, Snooki


A highly contentious media standoff is playing out this week at Sun Valley's Allen and Company shindig, the midsummer gathering of movie, television and social network titans.

Early Tuesday morning, DirecTV blacked out more than a dozen channels owned by Viacom, including Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central and others. More than 20 million American subscribers have had to do without SpongeBob, Snooki and Jon Stewart while the two companies haggle over a new contract.

Reuters is reporting that DirecTV Chief Executive Mike White and Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, both in Idaho this week, addressed the standoff with reporters, offering vastly different views on the blackout.

"In the last seven years since we did the last DirecTV deal, we have successfully and peacefully concluded affiliate agreements with every major distributor in the U.S. We are prepared to move forward. It's unfortunate consumers for the first time are not able to enjoy our channels," Reuters reported Dauman saying. "I don't want to negotiate in public."

But White laid the blame at Viacom's feet.

"We just think we pay a half a billion dollars a year and a billion dollar increase over five years, over 30 percent, is not justified by the marketplace or fair relative to our largest competitors or by their ratings," said White.

Dish blackouts are nothing new. On July 1, AMC, the network behind Mad Men and Breaking Bad, was removed from the Dish Network following a contract breakdown.