In AT&T and Viacom spat, cable customers lose out

 Illustration of two remote controls as swords dueling it out.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Barring a last-minute deal, millions of DirecTV customers will lose access to roughly two dozen Viacom channels like Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and VH1 at midnight Friday night because of a distribution dispute between DirecTV's parent company AT&T and Viacom.

Why it matters: Disputes like this one, driven by a shrinking traditional TV market, are leading to more programming blackouts for consumers, and could force some smaller, niche cable channels out of business altogether.

AT&T CEO plays down media exec departures

A man sits on stage
AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson played down the recent departure of executives from Time Warner, which the company acquired last year and used to build its new WarnerMedia unit.

Why it matters: Stephenson’s bet that the telecom company can use original content to compete with Amazon and Netflix depends on its ability to integrate the Time Warner properties into its business.

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