Showtime has filed suit against Charter, alleging the MSO is misusing licensing agreements following its acquisitions of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.
Showtime is now the third network to sue Charter, following similar claims from Univision and Fox News. Like those suits, Showtime says that Charter is refusing to honor content licensing agreements the premium network hammered out with Charter, and instead opting to use the agreement Showtime previously established with TWC.
Charter claims it can still use the TWC licensing agreements because a company called Spectrum Management Holdings acquired Charter’s legacy system and Spectrum owns the Charter, TWC and Bright House systems. But, according to Hollywood Reporter, Showtime says that stands in conflict to how Charter publically portrayed the acquisitions.
“Charter’s untenable position is also contradicted by dozens of Charter’s public statements that Charter’s pre-acquisition leadership and management team would manage all of the systems under the auspices of New Charter following the acquisition,” wrote Showtime in its complaint. “Tellingly, even the term ‘Spectrum’ is a reference to the brand name of products that Charter and not TWC provided to customers before the acquisition.”
As the report points out, it’s likely that the TWC terms for Showtime – and probably Univision and Fox News too – were more favorable than Charter’s agreements. But it’s difficult to know for sure because the Showtime legal filing is heavily redacted, particularly in sections discussing agreement terms with Charter and TWC.
The dustups with Showtime, Univision and Fox News come as Charter is pushing toward significant cost savings in the first year following the TWC-BHN acquisitions. Charter management has pegged total cost savings to be as high as $800 million. Earlier this month, Charter CFO Christopher Winfrey said that as much as $400 million of those total synergies will come from using the lower TWC programming rates.