UPDATE 1-Viacom to pull networks from Time Warner Cable
*Viacom seeks fee increase from No. 2 US cable company
*Networks will "go dark" at 12:01 p.m. Jan 1
*Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV among those to be pulled
LOS ANGELES, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Viacom Inc VIAb.N on Tuesday said it will pull its cable television networks, including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV, off Time Warner Cable (TWC.N) if the companies do not reach a deal on carriage fees by Jan. 1.
In a statement, Viacom said it is seeking a fee increase of less than 25 cents per month per subscriber from the second-largest U.S. cable operator.
Time Warner Cable says it has 13.3 million video subscribers. Its top markets include New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Cleveland.
"Time Warner Cable has dismissed our efforts at a fair compromise," Viacom said in a statement. "As a result, we are sorry to say that for Time Warner Cable customers our networks will go dark as of 12:01 on January 1st."
Some of television's most popular shows appear on Viacom's 19 cable TV networks, including "Dora the Explorer," "SpongeBob SquarePants," "The Colbert Report," "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Hills."
Time Warner Cable spokesman Alex Dudley said Viacom was asking for steep fee increases despite the fact that "ratings are sagging" at most of its networks.
"It just smacks of desperation from a company that is trying to make up for a failing business model on our subscribers' backs, and we're not going to take it," Dudley said.
New York-based Time Warner Cable, which is expected to split from its parent Time Warner Inc (TWX.N) next year, faces cost pressure from programmers demanding cash for retransmission fees. Retransmission fees are paid by cable and satellite companies to owners of broadcast signals on cable systems.
As advertising has taken a hit, more broadcasters are demanding cash from cable companies. At the same time, however, cable subscriber growth is slowing as consumers cut back on spending. (Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Gary Hill)
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