Univision temporarily unblocks U-verse for Dem debates

Univision agreed to temporarily lift its blackout of AT&T U-verse (NYSE: T) so that the service's Spanish-language viewers would have access to Wednesday night's Democratic presidential debate.

"We can confirm that Wednesday's Univision News and The Washington Post's Democratic Primary Debate from Miami will be available to U-verse customers as part of our commitment to inform and empower our community, especially in this crucial election year" Univision spokesperson Monica Talan said in an email sent to Politico.

"This is the right thing to do for our Spanish-language customers as we continue working toward an agreement with Univision," AT&T said in a statement released to FierceCable Tuesday afternoon.

The decision also drew praise from National Hispanic Media Coalition President and CEO Alex Nogales, who said, "There are more that 27.3 million Latinos eligible to vote in the election — nearly half of them are millennials — and we need to be well-informed participants in the political process. It is of the utmost importance that both parties renew negotiations toward an equitable agreement that respects the needs of customers and the immense value of Spanish-language programming."

The Spanish-language Univision broadcast network, which encompasses 60 stations serving 19 markets, as well as UniMás, Galavisión, and Univision Deportes NetworkCharge, has been blacked out for U-verse's 5.9 million subscribers since last week.

AT&T and Univision have been trading pointed volleys, with the programmer accusing the pay-TV operator of racial discrimination — a charge AT&T's Jim Cicconi, senior executive VP of external and legislative affairs, called "despicable."

Earlier on Tuesday, Cicconi sent out a statement, accusing Univision of causing the blackout.

"U-Verse customers did not simply 'lose access to the family of Univision networks.' That access was pulled by Univision, despite our offer to extend the carriage agreement temporarily while a new long-term agreement was being worked out."

For more:
- read this Politico story

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