Viacom Falls Most in 3 Years as Citigroup Cites Dish Risk

Updated on

Viacom Inc., the owner of MTV and Comedy Central, fell the most in more than three years after Citigroup analyst Jason Bazinet suggested the company’s programming may be dropped by satellite-TV provider Dish Network Corp.

Viacom fell 6.7 percent to $67.80 at the close in New York, the biggest decline since September 2011. Dish slid 1.9 percent to $70.44.

The company’s deal with Dish doesn’t expire this year, according to Jeremy Zweig, a spokesman for New York-based Viacom. In a research note, Bazinet said the “Viacom/Dish carriage renewal -– likely slated for 2015 -– is apt to be particularly contentious.”

Bazinet lowered his rating on Viacom to sell, saying there’s a 50 percent chance the networks will be dropped. Data suggest a smaller pay-TV provider, Cable One, benefited after dropping Viacom last year, the analyst said. Dish takes a particularly aggressive stance in negotiations, he said.

“Recently, we’ve been struck by the widening array of pay-TV operators that have terminated distribution of specific cable networks,” Bazinet wrote, noting that Cable One and Suddenlink dropped Viacom, Dish dropped some Turner channels for a month, and Dish currently isn’t carrying Fox News.

“See a pattern?” Bazinet wrote.

John Hall, a spokesman for Englewood, Colorado-based Dish, declined to comment on programming negotiations.