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ImOn Reviewing Latest Viacom Terms for 15 Channels

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - ImOn Communications is reviewing the latest contract terms from Viacom to continue carrying 15 MTV channels and plans to make a decision by April 9 whether to accept or reject the deal.

Jeff Janssen, ImOn vice president of sales and marketing, said the "final" terms include a rate increase that is much lower than what Viacom was initially requesting, but is significantly higher than what ImOn believes to be fair and reasonable.

"The increase also is much higher than what ImOn has seen from other programming providers," Janssen said. "The terms from Viacom also require ImOn to carry, and pay for, all 15 MTV Networks even though there are only a handful of these channels our customers are interested in viewing."

The channels include BET, Centric, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, MTV Hits, MTV2, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, Spike, Teen Nick, TV Land, VH1 and VH1 Classics.

Over the next few days, Janssen said ImOn will be reviewing all the economic and non-economic requirements of the proposed renewal.

"The decision will be made with the best interests of our customers in mind," Janssen said.

ImOn's existing agreement with Viacom expired at midnight on Monday. The two companies continued to negotiate past the deadline and all 15 15 MTV Network channels have continued to be available on ImOn.

Cable providers nationwide have been negotiating with Viacom for a contract renewal, but some have already decided to drop all or part of the Viacom package.

Cedar Falls Utilities on Tuesday replaced some Viacom channels with other programming, according to the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. CFU decided to take the action rather than raise rates to cover the additional cost that Viacom is asking for the channels.

Cedar Falls Utilities made its decision after surveying subscribers, who were more than 2 to 1 in favor of dropping the channels if the utility had to raise its rates. The cost would have been an additional $2.50 to $4.50 per month, depending on a customer's level of service.

ImOn is preparing to negotiate other contracts to carry local and national channels. Janssen said the company needs to take into account all of the potential increases in content cost and the impact on subscriber rates.

The Gazette Company, owner of KCRG-TV9 and The Gazette, is an investor in Imon Communications.

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