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REUTERS - Viacom Inc shares fell as much as 4.8 percent on Wednesday after Deutsche Bank downgraded the New York-based media company to "sell," citing the expected loss of revenue from a large cable distributor.
Deutsche Bank in a report dated May 9 lowered its investment rating on Viacom from "hold" and cut its price target to $32 a share from $35.
Last week, Deutsche Bank issued a research note saying Charter Communications Inc had moved Viacom's flagship networks, which include Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon, to its most expensive programming tier, which will probably mean lower affiliate and advertising revenue for the media company.
Viacom, along with its peers, is under pressure as more viewers cancel cable subscriptions to watch content online and advertisers increasingly shift their money to the web.
In the latest note, Deutsche Bank said Charter's change apparently applied beyond legacy markets from the Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks acquisitions.
"We've now noticed a change in tier composition in several legacy Charter markets since last week," the report stated.
Deutsche Bank said it expected the move, which affects only new customers and those switching tiers, to drive down affiliate and advertising revenue by 7.6 percent.
Last week, Viacom Chief Executive Officer Bob Bakish confirmed Charter's move and said it was an issue of contention between the two companies.
A Viacom spokesman declined to comment on Wednesday, and a Charter spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
In midday trading, Viacom shares pared earlier losses and were down 3.4 percent at $34.99.
Reporting by Jessica Toonkel; Editing by Anna Driver and Lisa Von Ahn