October 12, 2017 / 1:05 AM / in 2 months

Viacom warns of disruption as negotiations with Charter stall

(Reuters) - Viacom Inc VIAB.O said on Wednesday that Charter Communications CHTR.O subscribers may lose access to its channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeonon as the expiration looms for a distribution deal between the companies.

FILE PHOTO: A woman exits the Viacom Inc. headquarters in New York, U.S. on April 30, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Viacom said it had made a series of offers for a deal with Charter but could not meet the conditions asked by Charter.

“While we’re making every effort to reach a new deal, Charter’s actions may force a disruption in Spectrum subscribers’ service,” Viacom said in a statement.

The current deal between Charter and Viacom expires Oct. 15, according to a person familiar with the situation who declined to be identified. A blackout would hit 16.5 million subscribers.

A spokesman for Charter declined to comment.

Earlier this year, Charter moved Viacom’s flagship networks to its most expensive programming tier, a move that threatened the media company’s affiliate and advertising revenue.

This marks the first major affiliate dispute for Viacom since CEO Bob Bakish took over last year. Bakish has made it a priority to improve relations with distributors.

Viacom is in the midst of a turnaround plan to improve ratings and ad revenue.

Like many of its peers, Viacom is struggling to keep viewers as more watch on smartphones and tablets. Six of the largest U.S pay TV providers posted subscriber losses during the past quarter.

Shares of Viacom were marginally down in extended trading, while Charter shares were unaffected.

Reporting by Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru and Jessica Toonkel in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman

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