Peter Kafka

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That Was Quick: Viacom Ends Web Ban for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert


Jon Stewart came back from a two-week vacation last night and was in excellent form: There was a great recap on Mitt Romney’s Bain problem, a very funny interview with Louis C.K., and a scathing bit where he decried the stupidity of Viacom’s decision to pull its programming — including his show — off the Web.

Except, here it is. You can see the entirety of last night’s episode on the official “The Daily Show” site, and the same goes for Stephen Colbert’s show.

Viacom and DirecTV are still fighting over subscription fees, so it’s unclear what prompted Viacom to change its mind about the Web ban it instituted last week, or whether it will apply to other Viacom shows as well. I took a brief tour of other Viacom sites this morning, and found that I could see old “Jersey Shore” episodes, but was out of luck with “Teen Mom.

But most of Viacom’s shows are in reruns right now, and Colbert and Stewart are two of its most important online properties. So if it has called off the ban for those guys, it’s kind of the same as calling off the ban.

Then again, the ban for Stewart and Colbert was never going to be particularly effective, since it wasn’t a Webwide ban, anyway: The shows were always going to be available on Hulu.

Or maybe, per Stewart’s suggestion, the Viacom brass was worried that in the absence of “Daily Show” episodes on the Web, its customers might find other distractions, like masturbation. Or books.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
TV Banned
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Update: Here’s Viacom spokesman Carl Folta with a sort-of answer:

You will remember that we never said we were taking all our full length episodes down, just slimming down our offerings. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report were on hiatus, so no recent programs were available. We know their fans have missed them — and sadly subscribers of DirecTV who have not yet switched distributors are still forced to be without all the Viacom networks they love — so we wanted to get them back on our sites as soon as we could.

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