In the latest salvo in a nearly month-old carriage dispute, Starz has urged the Federal Communications Commission to enforce consumer protection rules that would require Altice USA to give Optimum cable subscribers 30 days’ notice before dropping programming.
Starz urges the FCC to take emergency action because it’s harming consumers. The network says it’s willing to provide programming under the old terms for the required 30 days.
“At last count, Starz is aware of nearly 60,000 consumer complaints,” Starz writes in its latest filing. “The purpose of the Emergency Petition is to stop this confusion, give consumers the opportunity to communicate their views on the deletion of 16 channels from the packages they have purchased and let the consumers make the informed choices contemplated by and protected through the FCC rules at issue.”
Starz argues that pay TV distributor Altice doesn’t dispute the fact that it shut down Starz programming in the middle of the night without providing this notice. The cable operator effectively dropped the ball on New Year’s Eve.
Altice counters that Starz’s emergency petition, asking the FCC to intervene, “has no basis in fact, law, or policy,” and that Starz is attempting to manipulate the regulatory process to get carriage in the important New York City market.
About 3.4 million subscribers to Altice’s Optimum cable service in the New York metro area have been without Starz, Encore and related networks since the companies failed to reach a deal Jan. 1.