Mar 9, 2004 8:09 am US/Eastern
Viacom made the following statement after EchoStar/DISH Network pulled its networks off the air:

"We are dismayed and disappointed by EchoStar/DISH Network's decision to pull the plug on our channels. We tried for months to reach an accommodation that would allow them to continue carrying CBS, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, Comedy Central, MTV, BET and many of our other channels, but EchoStar/DISH Network refused to entertain a reasonable proposal or to negotiate in earnest.

We have solid business partnerships with virtually every other satellite and cable TV operator--except for EchoStar/DISH Network.

It is hard for us to make sense of their position. They recently hiked their subscribers' bills by as much as $3 a month. Yet they are unwilling to consider paying an additional six cents a month per subscriber for the right to carry our channels. When Americans watch TV, they spend more than 20% of their time with our networks; nonetheless, we are asking for less than 5% of what EchoStar/DISH Networks currently generates from the average customer.

Fortunately, consumers have a choice. Every other satellite and cable television provider manages to carry our channels without finding it necessary to overcharge their subscribers. Current EchoStar/DISH Networks subscribers who would like to continue receiving BET, CBS, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, and all our other channels can easily switch to one of these reputable operators. We urge them to do so."