Viacom drags online video into DirecTV dispute

Stephen Colbert looks nonplussed. (Photo: Reuters)

Just as we were getting prepared for the latest round in the increasingly vicious battles between programmers and TV distributors, the Viacom fight with DirecTV took a new twist.

For the first time we can recall, the fight was extended to Viacom’s freely available shows online. The owner of MTV, Comedy Central, BET and many more decided that in order to properly enforce its blackout of TV shows from DirecTV it would “slim down” its Web offerings by blocking the latest episodes of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” These shows are usually available for free soon after airing on TV.

One issue might be that, to date, Viacom shows are ‘free’ in the true sense in that they do not require the online viewer to have a cable or satellite subscription — something that News Corp’s Fox has done. The idea is that you can watch these shows at no extra charge if you can “authenticate” yourself as a paying cable subscriber.

The really awkward part of this is that it affects everyone else who isn’t a DirecTV customer but wanted to catch up with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

Viacom isn’t saying anything publicly so far on this part of the dispute but insiders point out there are nearly 5,000 shows available for free online and it had to temporarily pull some shows because DirecTV was pointing its subscribers to the free sites as an alternative for their lost shows. Interestingly, as AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka points out, the blocked shows are still available on Hulu due to a contract loophole.

from Summit Notebook:

Jon Stewart’s brother says mom ‘pretty happy with both’

EXCHANGES-SUMMIT/A bit grayer and world wearier, maybe, but there's no mistaking the family resemblance between NYSE Chief Operating Office Larry Leibowitz and his kid brother Jon Stewart. Unlike the Daily Show host, Leibowitz mostly keeps a low profile, although he did find himself in the spotlight even before his appearance at the Reuters Global Exchanges and Trading Summit on Monday. The Wall Street Journal interviewed him in a story about the NYSE's effort to turn some high frequency traders -- who have been chipping away at the exchange's business -- into exchange floor traders.

Leibowitz may be sick of the Jon Stewart questions, but when pesky Reuters editors and journalists  inevitably raised them, he answered them with relatively good humor.  

"I know my mother's pretty happy with both," the NYSE's resident electronic trading expert said when asked whether it was tough living in the shadow of the celebrated news comedian. Leibowitz allowed that it was hard to imagine two brothers who had chosen more different careers. At this point, they even have different last names, after Leibowitz's younger brother adopted a stage name.

CIA + Wall Street + Reuters = Daily Show gold

With a disputed election in Iran and a coup in Honduras, Jon Stewart wants to know: Where is the CIA?******He finds his answer in a Reuters Video segment by Fred Katayama, who reported earlier this month that the spy agency is recruiting Wall Street’s finest. ************You can view our original segment here:******