Estrella TV tells Congress that Comcast is forcing it off the air

Spanish-language broadcaster Estrella TV took its retrans battle with Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) to Congress last week, petitioning select House representatives to help it avoid pulling channels in Houston, Denver and Salt Lake City from the No. 1 cable service on Feb. 19.

"This has been a real-life David versus Goliath battle, with our minority-owned company fighting one of the largest companies in America, and armed with a simple message: let the people watch what they want to watch," said Estrella TV founder and chairman Jose Liberman, in a statement. "With Estrella TV now surpassing Telemundo in the Los Angeles market and elsewhere, it is troubling to see Comcast act irresponsibly by putting its own self-serving business interests ahead of a small minority-owned company, and ahead of Comcast's Hispanic customers."

Comcast sent these same representatives the following statement:

"Comcast already distributes Estrella TV programming broadly as Estrella's largest distributor and we have been negotiating in good faith for months with Liberman Broadcasting to continue carrying its broadcast signals in these three markets, which represent only 20 percent of our total Estrella distribution. Most importantly, Comcast is not dropping Estrella--it is Estrella that has decided to pull its signal from Comcast customers. In fact, we've offered to continue to carry their stations under the existing arrangements, which are the same terms we have with other, comparable networks."

Comcast says renewal negotiations with Estrella's parent company, Liberman Broadcasting, are ongoing. Estrella reaches approximately 33 million homes through deals with AT&T U-verse (NYSE: T), Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR), Mediacom and Frontier Communications.

For more:
- read this Estrella TV press release
- read this Multichannel News story

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