With their carriage deal set to expire and the two sides seemingly far apart on renewal terms, Altice USA has stayed on the rhetorical offensive against Disney with a new TV ad.
“Disney is desperate to make up for ESPN’s crumbling business,” the narration claims. “Their solution: Force Optimum and its customers to pay hundreds of millions of dollars more than we are currently paying to continue carrying ESPN, The Disney Channel and ABC.”
As Altice works to renew the broad-reach carriage deal with Disney originally established by New York-area cable company it purchased last year, Cablevision, ESPN and its satellite channels have become major stumbling blocks.
In its ad, Altice says Disney has a “dark secret: It owns ESPN!” The cable operator then accuses Disney of overpaying the NFL, NBA and other sports leagues for sports rights, then trying to pass along the pain.
Meanwhile, with a blackout pending, Queens Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY) intervened with a statement urging both sides to hammer out a new deal.
“When broadcasters and cable companies negotiate new carriage contracts, it is imperative they always keep the best interests of their customers in mind. Customers should not be unfairly targeted or used as leverage in ongoing talks,” Crowley said in a statement. “As major players in broadcast television, Altice and The Walt Disney Company need to ensure that programming is maintained and that blackouts are avoided throughout their negotiations. I hope that both sides are fully committed to reaching a deal so that New York viewers aren’t impacted or victimized during this process."