For Immediate Release  (03/26/14)

Winona, MN Hiawatha Broadband Communications, Inc. (HBC) is in negotiations with Viacom, owner of MTV Networks, to continue offering their channels, but believes the current proposal from Viacom would have costly repercussions for the company’s customers. While we are restricted from talking about specific rates, Viacom demanded an unreasonably large rate increase that’s 40 times the rate of inflation*. Imagine pulling up to the gas pump and finding that gas has gone from $3.50 a gallon to $6.00 – overnight. That’s the scale of some of these large increases. In addition, Viacom may demand we drop their networks if we don’t agree to their proposal.

HBC, Inc. is an independent business located in Winona, MN, offering programming and broadband services throughout Southeast Minnesota and employing 105 people.

“HBC has added a website, TVOnMySide.com (www.TVOnMySide.com) to inform and educate our customers on rising programming costs. Across the country, networks are substantially increasing their fees to video providers, which affect customers directly. Viacom owns popular networks such as MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. But in order to offer these, Viacom requires us to carry less popular networks such as VH1, TV LAND, SPIKE, CMT, BET, NICKTOON, NICK JR, TEENNICK, MTV2, MTV HITS and VH1 CLASSIC” explained President and CEO, Dan Pecarina.

We want our customers to know that fees from these networks account for the bulk of monthly bills. Today’s entertainment marketplace is changing rapidly, and we have seen consolidation among major media companies. These mergers allow large programming companies significant leverage over independent cable companies such as HBC, Inc.

Our goal is to protect our customers from significant programming fee increases. We pay programmers such as Viacom a fee per channel, per month, per customer for their programming. When these contracts conclude, we negotiate new agreements and that concludes that business deal. But when a multibillion-dollar company such as Viacom demands an unprecedented increase in its monthly fees, we believe it’s our responsibility to take a stand. HBC is reviewing our agreement with Viacom in hopes of being able to provide our customers a credit should the Viacom channels go dark for any period of time.

These large increases impact all of us throughout Southeast Minnesota and we want to make sure our customers know we are working on their behalf.

We urge our customers to get the facts and be informed by visiting TVOnMySide.com.

* Source: 12-month period from January 2013 to January 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics, released February 20, 2014.

For additional information, or to schedule an interview, please contact Dan Pecarina at (507) 474-5805 or dpecarina@exchange.hbci.com.