MADISON — A dispute between a local cable provider and network programmer has been resolved and will no longer threaten the service of thousands of Maine customers.
Cable programmer Viacom and the National Cable Television Cooperative reached an agreement late Tuesday to renew use of Viacom’s media networks, according to a press release from the cooperative, which represents over 800 independent cable providers, including Madison-based Bee Line Cable.
Bee Line provides service to about 7,000 customers in Maine, including in Anson, Farmington, Industry, Madison, Millinocket, East Millinocket, Skowhegan and Wilton. The company carries 12 Viacom channels, including Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon.
The companies have been in negotiations for weeks, leading up to the expiration of a contract on Monday that threatened to black out channels to about 5.2 million customers across the country.
Bee Line Cable General Manager George Allen said Wednesday that the specifications of the new contract with Viacom are unknown, but rates will not change at least in the immediate future.
Viacom was originally proposing an “extremely high” rate increase, according to Allen, although the company would not comment on the proposed change.
Programming disputes are an occasional result of contract negotiations between programmers and cable providers who act as middlemen in selling channels to viewers, according to information on the Bee Line website.
A press release from Viacom and the cooperative stated that both sides were pleased to reach an agreement.
“Viacom is and remains one of NCTC’s largest content providers and we are pleased to have reached an agreement that will provide opportunities for our members to distribute their content over multiple platforms,” said Judy Meyka, NCTC executive vice president of programming, in the release.
Service to customers was never disrupted during the negotiations, said Allen.
“It’s been a long couple of weeks. We are looking forward to continuing our service with Viacom, although we are still waiting to see what the financial implications will be,” he said.
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368[email protected]