irecTV customers will have to go without Snooki, SpongeBob, and Jon Stewart after Viacom and the satellite provider failed to come to an agreement Tuesday on programming fees. That caused 20 million subscribers to lose 26 channels — including Nickelodeon, MTV, and Comedy Central — overnight. The dispute highlights the friction between content creators like Viacom and pay-TV distributors over costs of programming, as cheap online streaming alternatives, like Netflix, lure away customers. Before the blackout, Viacom said it had offered DirecTV a "fair deal" on rate increases after the company benefited from "way below market rates" in its seven-year-old deal. DirecTV, meanwhile, criticized what it described as a 30 percent rate increase. There is no word as to if and when the issue will be resolved.
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