Innovative could soon lose 17 channels, including MTV, BET and Comedy Central


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If a threat made by Viacom/MTV Networks is made good, Innovative customers will be without 17 channels today. Despite the threat, the channels were still available to Innovative customers at press time early this morning.

Innovative Cable officials were doubtful the threat will be carried out Monday afternoon, however, and are keeping customers informed on the status of the negotiations.

Viacom/MTV Networks has been in negotiations with the National Cable Telecommunications Cooperative for some time. The cooperative is a nonprofit organization that negotiates programming fees on behalf of about 1,000 cable television providers across the country, including Innovative Cable.

According to Innovative officials, Viacom/MTV Networks are demanding fee hikes that amount to about 40 times the rate of inflation, according to Innovative officials.

"These price increases would be excessive especially in our current economic situation and extremely burdensome and unfair to our Innovative Cable TV Customers," an Innovative written statement said.

Innovative Vice President of Cable TV Services and Marketing Graciela Rivera said Viacom has refused to extend the contract for the 17 channels while negotiations are continuing.

With the contract expiring, Viacom can de-authorize Innovative's receivers which will make those 17 channels go dark for thousands of customers in the Virgin Islands.

Viacom/MTV Networks have launched an ad campaign warning customers of the possible blackouts.

The warnings prompt customers to call their cable provider to complain, but Innovative officials said Viacom's demands would force the 23,000 cable subscribers in the territory to pay significantly higher bills.

"We will continue to stand our ground for fairness to our customers and again, we will not drop any channels. Although Viacom/MTV Networks threatens to suspend our satellite feed to their channels, our hope is that we can come to an agreement that is fair to our customers and we can continue carriage of the Viacom/MTV Networks. We will continue to keep the community informed of the progress in these discussions," Rivera said.

The channels that could be affected are MTV, MTV2, MTV Hits, MTV Jams, BET, VH1, VH1 soul, VH1 Classic, CMT, Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, TeenNick, Nick Jr., Comedy Central, TR3s, Spike TV and TV Land.

Rivera said Innovative has created a website to provide information to customers.

"We have produced a new website, www.TVOnMySide.com, to keep our community current on trends in programming costs, and we welcome customer feedback on this site," she said.

The website also offers resources for customers to find their favorite shows online.

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