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Viacom Removes Free Online Content Including Jon Stewart As DirecTV Dispute Trudges On

As we reported yesterday, the dispute between Viacom and DirecTV has gotten to the point where the cable provider went dark on 26 Viacom channels as a result of the content company’s “unaffordable” price demands. Today Entertainment Weekly reports that Viacom has removed the free-access videos of their more popular programming from company websites, serving to further prohibit DirecTV customers from viewing the conglomerate’s content.

Full episodes of popular shows like SpongeBob Squarepants, Jersey Shore, The Daily Show, and iCarly were yanked from the web, replaced by a message reading: “Full episodes are currently unavailable. We apologize for this inconvenience.” The 20 million DirecTV viewers who cannot view Viacom channels like MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and VH1 on their television set will now be unable to find that content online.

In a press statement, DirecTV insinuated this move is a cynical negotiating tactic on the part of Viacom:

Viacom is now not only holding DirecTV customers hostage, but all online viewers as well. Is this just another underhanded negotiating tactic, or does this mean that Viacom will no longer offer its content free online?

EW writes that the latter is a possible motive, seeing as Nickelodeons ratings have dropped double-digits in the last year while some of its shows were freely available on the web. A spokesman for Viacom said that the company still offers a lot of free episodes online, and only removed a few of them that were available solely for marketing purposes.

Read the whole report here.

(h/t EW.com)

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