Witching-Hour Deal for Cablevision and Viacom

Agreement caps a good day for cable carriage pacts

Cablevision and Viacom have finally reached a deal, and not a moment too soon.

With about an hour to go before Times Square was set to usher in the New Year to the strains of "Auld Lang Syne," the cable provider and the entertainment conglomerate have hammered out a deal to keep SpongeBob and the Situation lit up in New Jersey and Long Island. 

It's the third cable agreement of the day: earlier, NBCUniversal signed a multi-year pact with the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), a deal which will mark the first time the cable provider will pay a fee to retransmit NBC broadcast; and Charter, which provides cable services to much of the Southeast, signed a multi-year deal with Disney that includes the upcoming ABC News/Univision joint venture network.

It's neither the first time this year Viacom has been in protracted negotiations with a cable operator, nor the first time in recent history the two companies have clashed. Viacom and DirecTV entered a lengthy dispute earlier this year, centering mostly on distribution of the company's new cable channel, Epix. Last year Viacom and Cablevision fought tooth and nail over the latter's iPad app, going all the way to court.

As with the last Viacom/Cablevision showdown, both sides are keeping mum about terms, although they describe the deal as a multi-year arrangement.

Now please, people who were negotiating this thing, go have a drink.