CEDAR FALLS | Cable television subscribers of Cedar Falls Utilities may find several changes when they turn on their TVs Tuesday.
They'll have to go elsewhere to see episodes of Comedy Central offerings like "South Park," Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report." The latest MTV reality series will be gone, along with Nickelodeon offerings like "SpongeBob SquarePants."
Due to a negotiation impasse between a buying group of independent cable systems and New York-based entertainment giant Viacom, CFU is replacing some Viacom networks with other programming.
CFU is taking the action rather than raise rates to cover the price Viacom is asking for the channels, based on results of a survey of CFU cable subscribers.
"We got a very big response on the survey. It was more than 2 to 1 in favor of replacing the networks if we couldn't keep them at a cost that didn't affect cable bills," CFU spokeswoman Betty Zeman said.
That cost would be an additional $2.50 to $4.50 per month depending on a customer's level of service. The other option would have been simply to let those channels go dark.
"Knowing most of our customers are behind us, we're going to go ahead and make the changes," Zeman said. "Actually, it's a chance for us to put on some new channels people have been requesting." Those include Disney Junior, FXX, Investigation Discovery, Fox Business News and the Hallmark Movie Channel.
In all, for CFU "Basic Plus" cable customers -- CFU's most popular subscriber service level, similar to "expanded basic" on other systems -- eight Viacom channels are being replaced with 11 other channels. An additional nine Viacom channels will be removed from other levels of service.
The complete reconfigured channel lineup is available online at cfu.net/new. It does not affect service to any of the major broadcast networks.
Mediacom subscribers are unaffected, said spokeswoman Phyllis Peters said.
The CFU cable reconfiguration results from an impasse between Viacom and the National Cable Television Cooperative, of which CFU is a member, made up of some 800 cable systems and 5.3 million subscribers nationwide.
Normally, such negotiations are resolved without programming interruptions, Zeman said. Asked if the Viacom channels would return, she said, "We'll never say never, but at this instant there isn't any reason for us to think they're going to come up with a reasonable offer."
"We haven't dropped a channel in more than 10 years, so this is very unusual," CFU general manager Jim Krieg said in a press release. "A strong majority of our customers told us they'd rather have new channels than pay a rate increase to keep the Viacom networks.
"We deeply regret the fact that this is going to disappoint some customers," Zeman said. But she noted most Viacom programming "is not cable exclusive" and CFU will help guide customers in accessing that programming via other information platforms.