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Versus network goes dark on DirecTV in rate dispute

On-screen message appears saying, 'Versus is no longer available on this channel' and that network owner Comcast has made 'unfair and outrageous demands.'

September 01, 2009|Diane Pucin

Versus, which carries sports programming as varied as the Tour de France, college football, IRL auto racing and the majority of regular-season national NHL games, went dark on DirecTV after not reaching a new contract deal Monday.

At 9:01 p.m. PDT, the Versus channel on DirecTV went to a blue screen with the message, "Versus is no longer available on this channel. Comcast, which owns Versus, has forced us to take down the channel because we will not submit to their unfair and outrageous demands."

The dispute is over how much, if any, a rate increase DirecTV will pay for the channel. According to a statement on the DirecTV website, the Versus demand was called "piggish."

"DirecTV already pays Versus more than any other independent distributor," the statement says. It also says that Versus is asking for a 20% rate hike.

In response, Versus released a statement that said, in part, "We are disappointed that DirecTV has chosen to remove Versus from its service and deny its subscribers access to our all-encompassing coverage of the sports they love."

-- Diane Pucin

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