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Cable companies reach new agreement





Officials from the two local cable television companies confirmed this morning an agreement had been reached in their contract dispute with Viacom.

The National Cable Television Cooperative -- which represents more than 800 small cable television companies across the country -- announced on its website Tuesday night an agreement had been reached. Both local cable companies -- Eagle Communications and Nex-Tech -- are members of NCTC.

Scott Roe, video/visual solutions manager at Nex-Tech, and Jim Gall, director of engineering for Eagle, both said this morning an agreement with Viacom had been reached Tuesday night.

As a result of the agreement, more than a dozen channels that could have gone dark instead will continue to be in the lineup for Eagle Communications and Nex-Tech.

The local cable companies' broadcast agreements with Viacom ended at 11 p.m. Monday, but channels that potentially could have gone dark remained on the air as negotiations on a new contract continued into Tuesday.

Viacom, a global mass media company which owns several popular cable channels, wanted a significant increase in broadcast fees for the channels it distributes. In an email it sent out to customers early Tuesday morning, Eagle said the fee being requested by Viacom was 40 times the rate of inflation.

Among the Viacom channels the two local cable companies could have lost if an agreement had not been reached were Comedy Central, Nickeleodeon, Spike, and several VH1 and MTV channels.

Eagle could have lost 16 channels in its Hays lineup and Nex-Tech could have lost nine channels in its premiere package and another eight channels on its sports and entertainment tier in its Hays lineup.

Eagle general manager Travis Kohlrus told the HDN last week Eagle has never lost a channel in his 11 years with the company.

Kohlrus was not available for comment.