Cable Operators

Viacom, EchoStar Agree to Pact

3/10/2004 8:51 AM Eastern

They’re back: Viacom Inc. cable programming and, crucially, CBS local stations in 16 markets returned to Dish Network early Thursday after Viacom and EchoStar Communications Corp. agreed on a new long-term carriage deal that includes some Viacom programming EchoStar had said it didn’t particularly want.

CBS and such Viacom-owned networks as Nickelodeon, MTV: Music Television and Comedy Central went dark on Dish Tuesday after the extension of a previously expired carriage agreement lapsed.

EchoStar also said it dropped an antitrust lawsuit that accused Viacom of improperly tying retransmission of CBS broadcast signals to carriage of Viacom-owned cable networks.

The new agreement restores CBS in the 16 markets where Viacom owns the local CBS stations. It provides for carriage of Comedy Central, MTV, MTV2, Nickelodeon, Noggin, Nick GAS Games and Sports for Kids, VH1, VH1 Classic, MTV Español and Black Entertainment Television.

The agreement also adds to the length of carriage deals for the CBS HD (East and West) channels and for Spike TV, Country Music Television and TV Land.

And Dish Network will launch Nicktoons on its "America's Top 180" package this spring.

September