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LOS ANGELES (AP) — DirecTV subscribers are losing access to “The Daily Show” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

DirecTV Group Inc. stopped carrying channels owned by Viacom Inc. because of a contract dispute. They include MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.

The dispute is over how much DirecTV should pay to carry the Viacom programming. The two companies blamed each other for the shutdown.

Viacom and DirecTV have had an agreement for seven years, which Viacom says meant that it has been paid below-market rates for the programming. DirecTV, meanwhile, says Viacom is asking for too much money.

DirecTV has 20 million U.S. subscribers.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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