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July 11, 2012

Anatomy of a Programming Dispute-DirecTV, Viacom Timeline
By Amy Maclean

 A few minutes before midnight Tues, DirecTV subs lost Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV and 14 other Viacom nets as well as the HD feeds. Programming disputes like this are messy and involve a lot of back and forth. Here’s a blow-by-blow leading up to blackouts (all times EDT):

June 12
Sanford Bernstein publishes a research note suggesting that a distributor might drop Viacom networks given ratings drops.
June 30
DirecTV and Viacom’s programming contract expires. An extension is granted until July 10.
July 9
5:45pm: Viacom tells DirecTV to expect a formal letter notifying it that it must cease carriage of the Viacom nets by 12:01am July 11 if a new agreement is not reached by that time.
7:30pm: "Jersey Shore" briefly appears on Nickelodeon. 

7:33pm: A DirecTV-related crawl appears on West Coast feed for Nick but runs only once.
8:00 pm. Viacom says the "Snooki" incident is an unfortunate human error and unrelated to DirecTV programming dispute/crawls. Nickelodeon tells DirecTV that the initial crawl was a mistake.
Around 11:22pm: Viacom begins running a crawl on BET, Nick and some other stations, informing  DirecTV subs that they could lose the nets in about 24 hours. At around this same time, DirecTV receives promised formal letter from Viacom. Viacom publishes a blog post, complete with video spots, about the programming dispute.  It also launches Whendirectvdrops.com.
11:56pm: DirecTV has all of its Viacom messaging in place, including a video message from CEO Mike White at DirecTVPromises.com.
July 10

11am: Viacom says this is the last time it spoke with DirecTV before the channels went dark.
Around 11:50pm: Viacom channels Nick, MTV, Palladia, Centric, Tr3s, CMT, Logo, NickToons, VH1 Classic, TeenNick, Nick Jr., Nick@Nite, Spike, BET, VH1, TV Land, Comedy Central go dark on DirecTV, as well 9 HD Viacom nets.
July 11
DirecTV and Viacom both said talks were underway. 

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