LOS ANGELES — A spat between Time Warner Cable Inc. and Viacom Inc. over how much the cable company pays to carry channels such as MTV and Comedy Central headed down to the wire on New Year's Eve _ with little sign of movement as a blackout looked likely at a minute past the stroke of midnight.
Time Warner, the nation's second-largest cable operator, proposed an increase in what it pays for Viacom's channels, but the offer was rejected as "a pittance," said Viacom spokeswoman Kelly McAndrew.
If the impasse is not resolved, shows such as "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "The Colbert Report" will be unavailable to Time Warner's 13.3 million cable subscribers. Time Warner Cable primarily serves people in New York state, the Carolinas, Ohio, Southern California and Texas.
Time Warner Chief Executive Glenn Britt on Wednesday called Viacom's demand for a 12 percent increase in fees _ an extra $39 million on top of the estimated $300 million it pays Viacom annually _ extortion and outrageous given the recession. Viacom countered that the requested increase amounted to an extra $2.76 annually per subscriber.