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Viacom uses Cartoon Stars to ask for a raise

Viacom is asking Time Warner Cable for a raise – and if they don’t get it they will pull their channels off the cable service AT MIDNIGHT TONIGHT!

Oh, by the way, Happy New Year.

If Time Warner Cable and Viacom can’t reach a deal, the channel blackout would occur after midnight in each time zone. The affected channels would be: Comedy Central, Logo, Palladia, MTV, MTV 2, MTV Hits, MTV Jams, MTV Tr3s, Nickelodeon, Noggin, Nick 2, Nicktoons, Spike, The N, TV Land, VH1, VH1 Classic, VH1 Soul and CMT: Pure Country.

At of the time of this posting, no deal has been reached between Viacom and TWC. I find it interesting that in their hour of need, Viacom reaches for it’s biggest cartoon stars – Spongebob, Dora and Cartman – to appeal to cable customers for help, in newspaper ads (above) and TV spots (below). Cartoons (and their animators) don’t usually rate the respect of live action fare in Hollywood – but when it comes to the financial bottom line, stunts like this really illustrate how powerful animation is to the major corporations.

Actually, there could be a silver lining in all this for classic cartoon fans. It could be a godsend to Cartoon Network who are running a marathon of Looney Tunes all New Year’s Day. The spill-over of kids looking for Nicktoons could end up on CN, potentially giving a huge rating for the Warner Bros. cartoons, which could encourage CN (or another network) to license the Looney Tunes full time. If I were Time Warner, I’d call Viacom’s bluff.

UPDATE: At the last minute, a deal between TWC and Viacom was reached. Nick, MTV and Comedy Central are all there where they should be.