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Comcast and DirecTV throw down over Versus

September 2, 2009 |  8:27 am

Maybe Lance Armstrong can broker a peace treaty. 

LANCE Versus, the sports channel owned by cable giant Comcast Corp., which is best known for its coverage of the Tour de France and the National Hockey League, is in an ugly contract dispute with DirecTV over the fees the satellite TV service pays to carry the channel and how Versus is distributed to subscribers.

DirecTV said Versus is being "piggish" and wants a more than 20% increase in the fees DirecTV pays to carry the channel. While neither side would say what that means in real money, sources tell us that DirecTV pays about 21 cents per subscriber for the channel and that Comcast wants to bump that to 26 cents.

Comcast has countered that the dispute is less about money and more about DirecTV wanting to move Versus to a programming tier that reaches fewer subscribers. DirecTV doesn't deny this but said other distributors already have similar deals.

Much of the media industry is watching this one. Comcast, which is the nation's largest cable operator with almost 24 million subscribers, often has similar battles with programmers. Now it is on the other side of the fence as the programmer battling with a distributor.

This is not an isolated incident. Comcast and DirecTV have had an acrimonious relationship for some time. For more details, please read our story in today's Los Angeles Times.

-- Joe Flint 

Photo: Lance Armstrong. Credit: Eric Albrecht / Columbus Dispatch/Associated Press

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