UPDATED with Altice response. As the Starz-Altice USA carriage dispute drags on, the Lionsgate-owned network has filed two separate petitions with the FCC that aim to force the cable company to restore it on New York-area Optimum systems.
The No. 2 premium network has been dark for Optimum’s 4.9 million customers since Jan. 1.
The petitions request the FCC to force Altice to restore carriage of Starz, Starz Encore and Movieplex for the 30-day notice period required under FCC rules. It also asks the distributor to “correct” its “misleading and false disclosures regarding its deletions of Starz channels” and “respond to consumer inquiries and complaints,” in compliance with FCC rules.
“To our great disappointment, and to the disappointment of Altice customers, Starz and its affiliated channels continue to remain off the air in New York,” said Starz CEO Chris Albrecht. “This disruption has caused high-quality programming that promotes diversity in its production, talent and content, to be taken from viewers with no notice. More than that, Altice has continued a pattern of abusive consumer practices in avoiding the inquiries and complaints of its subscribers about the deletion.
“The filing of today’s petition is the next step in our effort to ensure that Altice subscribers receive the full value of their subscription, including restoration of all Starz channels,” he added. “Starz has never stopped transmitting its service to Altice and it is time for them to do the right thing by either restoring the service or giving our customers a refund.”
Altice responded to the Starz move with a statement. “These claims are without merit and we will file our response in due course,” it said. “We are focused on providing the best content experience for our customers and continually evaluate which channels meet their needs and preferences relative to the cost of the programming imposed by content owners. Given that Starz is available to all consumers directly through Starz’ own over-the-top streaming service, we don’t believe it makes sense to charge all of our customers for Starz programming, particularly when their viewership is declining and the majority of our customers don’t watch Starz. We have offered and remain open to a deal with Starz to offer the content to customers who want it, but they refuse.”
Last week, during TCA winter press tour in Pasadena, Albrecht expressed confidence in a resolution but said it could take time.