Univision’s long-running battle over carriage terms with Charter Communications came to a head tonight. As of midnight ET, when the two companies’ previous carriage deal expired, the No. 2 cable company’s customers no longer can watch the Spanish language broadcaster. Amid an impasse and with the deadline looming, Univision started to inform Charter subscribers that the network may go dark last week.
The battle goes back to July when Univision sued Charter in New York Supreme Court. The broadcaster wanted the cable company to pay carriage rates it negotiated, while Charter wanted to use the lower rates paid by Time Warner Cable, which it acquired in May.
Univision allowed Charter to continue carrying its services through this month while they negotiated. The two sides are still in the discovery phase of the lawsuit. Charter filed a limited motion to dismiss.
The standoff between Univision and Charter comes a week after the Spanish-language network renewed a carriage deal with Comcast, parent company of Univision rival Telemundo.
As Univision was taken off Charter’s platforms tonight, the network issued the following lengthy statement:
Charter Communications has continually rejected all of UCI’s repeated, good-faith efforts to reach an agreement. As a result, Charter has decided to deny its subscribers continued access to Hispanic America’s most popular entertainment and sports, and most trusted news content. Over the past few days, Charter’s subscribers have demonstrated an overwhelming level of support for Univision’s content through an outpouring of calls to Charter. Despite this huge customer outcry, Charter still refuses to value Univision’s content and the audience we serve. Charter’s recent acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Brighthouse, making it the second largest cable and broadband company in the U.S., gives it immense marketplace power. Given the size of the distribution platforms that it controls, Charter has an obligation to its customers to provide them with access to content that is in-language and in-culture, which is vitally important during these politically volatile times. This is part of a continuing fight against mega mergers to ensure that there are diverse voices and opportunities for minorities in the media marketplace. Univision’s top priority remains steadfast: providing critical news and information to empower and serve the Hispanic community. We are ready to resume good faith negotiations immediately and hope Charter will do what is right for its Hispanic customers.
Said Charter in a statement, “We have a contract with Univision and we expect them to honor it.”