Univision has threatened to pull its owned and operated stations off Charter Communications on Tuesday over a retrans tussle that is already subject to litigation.
“Despite Univision’s many attempts to resolve the dispute by offering good-faith settlement solutions, Charter has rejected all of Univision's efforts. Given this unfortunate impasse, Univision has no choice but to inform Charter’s customers that they may lose access to Univision’s networks and stations,” Univision said in a statement released Friday.
“We have a contract with Univision and expect them to honor it,” responded Charter.
In August, Univision sued Charter for breach of contract. In the wake of Charter’s closure on the Time Warner Cable assets, the Spanish-language broadcaster accused Charter of essentially trying to leverage TWC’s more favorable Univision retrans deal, instead of the expiring contract Charter already had.
Indeed, TWC’s Univision deal doesn’t end until 2022. Charter has structured its 2016 acquisitions so that the newly combined MSO, which also included the assets of Bright House Networks, appears under the control of TWC.
“This is a perfect example of how a behemoth cable company like Charter uses its excessive market power to harm content companies and the millions of subscribers who rely on Univision and its suite of networks for vital news and information in language,” Univision said.
CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox have also cried foul and have filed breach-of-contract lawsuits.
It’s unclear as to how many Univision O&Os are affected by the blackout. But Charter is the biggest cable operator in Los Angeles, New York and a number of Texas markets with large Hispanic consumer bases. Further, the blackout threat comes during a high-water period for Spanish-language news viewing, with a new president drawing up a series of highly polarizing immigration policies.