Charter has grown too powerful for programmers, Public Knowledge says

Charter Communications sign (use this one)
On Tuesday, Univision revealed that it was blacking out an unspecified number of owned and operated stations on Charter. The dispute dates back to last summer, when the broadcaster sued Charter shortly after it closed on its purchases of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

The impasse between Charter Communications and Univision that has resulted in the Spanish-language broadcaster blacking out its channels on the MSO is proof that Charter has grown too powerful, consumer org Public Knowledge said.

“The blackout of Univision on Charter Spectrum cable—which includes millions of former Time Warner Cable customers—is an unfortunate development that shows how disparities in bargaining power between programmers and distributors can leave customers in the lurch,” said John Bergmayer, senior counsel at Public Knowledge, in a statement.

“As we argued in recent comments to the FCC, these imbalances can distort competition and harm consumers. We hope that Charter and Univision resolve their dispute in a way that ensures the continued vibrancy of independent programming, particularly programming that serves diverse audiences, while keeping costs low for consumers.”

RELATED: Univision blacks out Charter

On Tuesday, Univision revealed that it was blacking out an unspecified number of owned and operated stations on Charter. The dispute dates back to last summer, when the broadcaster sued Charter shortly after it closed on its purchases of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

Univision accused Charter of improperly trying to hide behind TWC’s superior broadcast retransmission licensing deal with the Spanish-language broadcaster. Univision is attempting to hold Charter to the terms of its legacy deal.

Charter has responded by simply stating that the pair have an agreement, and that Univision needs to stick with it. 

Charter has similar ongoing disputes with 21st Century Fox (over Fox News) and CBS Corp. (over Showtime).

RELATED: Charter sued by New York Attorney General for not addressing TWC speed issues fast enough

Earlier this week, Charter countersued Fox, alleging that it has most favored nation clauses in its contract that are being violated. 

Separately, beyond programming-related matters, Charter is being sued by the New York Attorney General’s office, which claims it hasn’t fixed the problem of TWC under-delivering on broadband speeds in the Big Apple and surrounding parts. 

Public Knowledge’s Bergmayer also commented on this matter: “In uncompetitive markets like consumer broadband, it's too easy for companies to offer customers a substandard service, year after year, including tricking them into upgrades that are never delivered. As Attorney General Schneiderman stated, your cable company ‘has been ripping you off.’"

“We are pleased to see State Attorneys General playing an important role in protecting consumers in the communications marketplace,” he added. 

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