Full episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are no longer available on Comedy Central's websites thanks to a fight between parent company Viacom and satellite TV provider DirectTV.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Viacom has opted to cut back on the number of full television episodes it offers on the Internet after pressure from DirecTV, which stopped carrying 26 Viacom channels this week, including MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, BET and others.
Viacom did not announce the plan to remove full episodes of some of its most popular shows, including Spongebob Squarepants and Jersey Shore, leaving hopeful viewers confounded at an apology message on Thursday morning that encouraged them to watch brief clips of the shows instead. Strangely enough, while full episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report were unavailable via their own websites, they were still being offered through Hulu.com.
In a statement published to the DirecTV website, CEO Mike White claimed that Viacom forced the satellite provider to remove the channels or face legal action. "At the very least, we feel that Viacom should give your family the choice to pay for only those channels that you watch, but so far they've refused," he added, claiming Viacom had sought an additional $1 billion for its channels.
Viacom disputed DirecTV's claim, a video of which has been playing on loop where the missing channels used to reside. "[The] last proposal DirecTV had made was lower than anyone else pays in the industry, and a deal we said we would not do out of fairness to other distributors," Denise Denson, Viacom's VP in charge of content distribution and marketing, claimed in prepared text. "It is essentially the same proposal they had been talking about for three weeks, and one we continually said we would not do."
Viacom's drastic move of pulling some of its most popular shows off the Internet appears to be a show of good faith in its closed-door negotiations with DirecTV, meant to illustrate that it is willing to curb online distribution to shore up subscription-based viewership. That means it also could be temporary. But until either party concedes its position and begins working toward compromise, it's looking like there will be no more Daily Show for netizens sans TV.