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DirecTV customers: SpongeBob is back

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    FILE - This undated file image released by Nickelodeon shows a scene from the animated show "SpongeBob SquarePants." The cartoon character is in hot water from a study suggesting that watching just nine minutes of "SpongeBob SquarePants" can cause short-term attention and learning problems in 4-year-olds. (AP Photo/Nickelodeon, File)
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. >> DirectTV subscribers who want their MTV, SpongeBob SquarePants or comedian Jon Stewart are getting their wish.

Viacom Inc. and the satellite TV service provider said today that they have settled a dispute that had cut off access to 17 Viacom channels for DirectTV subscribers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon had been inaccessible to some 20 million DirecTV customers since July 10 as the two companies haggled over how much DirecTV should pay to carry those channels.

A day later Viacom also shut off access to full-length episodes on its own websites such as MTV.com and ComedyCentral.com to all visitors, even those who had no stake in the dispute. That was apparently in response to DirecTV telling its U.S. subscribers where they could find programs on the Internet that they could no longer watch on TV.

With viewers frustrated by the lack of accessibility, Viacom decided on Tuesday to let new episodes of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" be shown on its websites, easing the blockade of online viewings that it imposed last week. The move came a day after both shows resumed new episodes following a two-week hiatus.

As part of the new long-term deal, DirecTV Group Inc. subscribers will also be able to see Viacom shows on tablets, laptops and other devices using DirecTV’s Everywhere platform.

While the two companies have struck a deal, DirecTV made it clear that it was not happy with what had transpired.

"The attention surrounding this unnecessary and ill-advised blackout by Viacom has accomplished one key thing: it serves notice to all media companies that bullying TV providers and their customers with blackouts won’t get them a better deal," Derek Chang, executive vice president of content strategy and development for DirecTV, said in a statement.

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