Thursday, January 01, 2009

SlimeBob GreedPants vs. Big Cable

Hey! Kids!

If your cable company doesn't pony up, we're gonna kill SpongeBob! And then we're gonna take Dora and we're gonna explore her! If you get our drift.

Tell Mom and Dad to call Big Cable and complain. Tell Mom and Dad you'll hold your breath until you turn blue.

SpongeBob's waterlogged life is in your hands, kids! Don't let him down.

OF COURSE, reports the Los Angeles Times, this worked fantastically. Because we're that kind of country.

Facing a backlash from TV viewers furious at the prospect of losing "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "Dora the Explorer," two media giants reached a new programming agreement that keeps those popular cartoon characters on the channels of the country's second-largest cable operator.

Viacom Inc. had threatened to pull 19 of its cable channels, including Nickelodeon, MTV, VH-1 and Comedy Central, from the Time Warner Cable Inc. systems at midnight Wednesday when their previous two-year contract expired.

At midnight in New York, minutes into the new year, Viacom granted an extension that allowed the two sides to keep talking. They then clinched a deal. The New Year's Day accord avoided a blackout of Viacom's programming in 13.3 million homes in the U.S. served by Time Warner Cable Inc., including nearly 2 million in the Los Angeles area.

Details of the new contract were not immediately available.

The resolution came after a long day of squabbling as each side accused the other of greed, and irate customers jammed Time Warner Cable's call centers, saying they wanted their MTV and Nickelodeon. The reaction from viewers was stoked by Viacom's costly media campaign in print and on television, much of it targeted at kids.

"Demanding that our customers pay so much more for these few networks would be unreasonable in any economy, but it is particularly outrageous given the current economic conditions," Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Glenn Britt said early Wednesday. "Huge price increases like what Viacom is demanding threaten the ultimate value of cable TV."

Viacom had purchased newspaper advertisements, featuring a tearful Dora the Explorer, and placed an on-screen crawl on its channels to alert viewers to the impending programming blackout. The ads encouraged viewers to complain to Time Warner Cable.

The tactic worked -- parents reported having to soothe children who were upset over the prospect of not being able to watch their favorite shows on Nickelodeon, including "SpongeBob SquarePants."

"Our family will cancel Time Warner if a suitable agreement is not reached," threatened Debra Cooper, a mother of two who lives in San Diego. "I admit SpongeBob's laugh drives me nuts, but he is part of our family, as is George Lopez, 'Home Improvement,' 'i-Carly,' and all the rest."

Cooper said she called Time Warner Cable twice Wednesday to lobby for the channel. The company was inundated with calls, and executives from both companies put their holiday plans on hold to return to the negotiations.
KILL YOUR TV. It's important.

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