Univision blasts AT&T for 'discriminatory behavior' amid latest retrans-related blackout

Univision has charged AT&T (NYSE: T) with racial discrimination after its channels went dark in the homes of 5.9 million U-verse pay-TV subscribers.

The Spanish-language Univision broadcast network, which encompasses 60 stations serving 19 markets, as well as UniMás, Galavisión, and Univision Deportes NetworkCharge, have been blacked out in the latest impasse in broadcast retransmission licensing renewal.

"Despite Univision's tireless efforts to reach an agreement, AT&T is denying its U-verse customers access to our networks and stations, which have the most popular Spanish-language news, sports and entertainment. AT&T is redlining our audience by refusing to recognize the value of the Univision networks and the consumers we serve," said Univision, in a statement.

"AT&T's discriminatory behavior is preventing Hispanic America from receiving content and information in language and in culture, which is especially vital during this election year. These disputes can be confusing for consumers, but in our case it's simple: we must receive fair compensation, on par with English language broadcasters," Univision added.

AT&T responded with this statement: "As the largest television provider, we are fighting for our customers to keep the increasing costs charged by programmers to a reasonable amount. Numerous recent and diverse programming deals we have signed prove this can be accomplished."

AT&T has struck a hard bargain in program licensing negotiations for U-verse, as it looks to put program costs for the platform in line with the company's much larger DirecTV asset, which enjoys much more leverage.

Still, as recently as Feb. 23, Univision CEO Randy Falco told lenders and investors that he was "optimistic" that a deal with AT&T would be carved out. "AT&T seems to be saying all the right things and we certainly think along those lines that we should be able to get a fair deal done," Falco said.

For more:
- read this Variety story
- read this Deadline Hollywood story

Related articles:
U-verse threatened with Univision blackout
AT&T U-verse wind-down goes into overdrive, as vendors feel the pain
AT&T/DirecTV becomes last top pay-TV operator to launch IP service

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