Altice USA Fires Back At Starz FCC Petitions: “No Basis In Fact”


Altice USA has responded to the two petitions filed with the FCC this month by Starz, seeking relief in the companies’ three-week-old carriage dispute.

Not surprisingly, the response does not hold back, saying one of the two Starz petitions is “untimely and has no basis in fact, law, or policy. It is simply a transparent attempt by Starz to manipulate a regulatory process reserved for emergency situations to secure the carriage it failed to obtain based on the merits of its programming.”

Millions of 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.

“This negotiation failed not because of any violation of the Commission’s rules, but because Starz sought a price that makes no economic sense for Altice and its customers,” the cable operator said in its statement. “There is no Commission rule or precedent that permits this marketplace result to be overturned or upset.”

Lionsgate disclosed the petition filings last week.

“Belying its assertions that the failure to reach a carriage agreement constitutes the basis for emergency relief, Starz waited nearly three weeks before seeking FCC intervention on an ‘emergency basis,'” one part of the response reads. “This fact alone shows that there is no ‘emergency;’ it would have acted promptly if it in fact had suffered irreparable harm, but it did not.”

The filing goes on to refute claims by Starz that customers were not given any warning that the premium network was about to go dark. It also counters the assertion that it negotiated in bad faith.

“Starz’s Petition is premised on the fundamentally faulty premise that Altice knew on or before December 1 that its systems would drop Starz at the end of the month,” the response says. “That could not be further from the truth.  Altice was negotiating with Starz in good faith up through the New Year’s Eve expiration of the parties’ existing agreement.  Altice made several reasonable carriage offers, all of which Starz rejected.”

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