×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Starz Files FCC Complaint Against Altice USA as Carriage Fight Heads into Week Four

Starz has asked the FCC to intervene in its carriage standoff with Altice USA, urging the commission to order the channels restored on Altice systems because the cable operator violated a rule that requires distributors give customers 30 days notice of big programming changes.

Starz has filed a petition for emergency injunctive relief with the FCC. The complaint details the back-and-forth in negotiations between Starz and Altice that began in September but didn’t heat up until late December. The 17 Starz-Encore channels went dark on Altice systems as of Jan. 1.

“To our great disappointment, and to the disappointment of Altice customers, Starz and its affiliated channels continue to remain off the air in New York,” said Chris Albrecht, president-CEO of Starz, which was acquired in 2016 by Lionsgate. “This disruption has caused high-quality programming that promotes diversity in its production, talent and content, to be taken from viewers with no notice. More than that, Altice has continued a pattern of abusive consumer practices in avoiding the inquiries and complaints of its subscribers about the deletion.”

Starz maintains that it never told Altice and its Cablevision subsidiary that serves the New York area to yank the channels that are home to such original dramas as “Outlander,” “American Gods,” and “Power.”

“Cablevision was aware of the disclosure requirements, but it wanted to avoid the inevitable outcry from deleting the popular Starz Channels and simply disregarded the Commission’s notice rule,” the complaint states.

Altice counters that Starz is seeking too big of a rate increase at a time when viewership is declining. Altice points to the fact that Starz last year launched a stand-alone streaming app that allows consumers to receive the service for $9 a month. Altice asserts that the fee increase sought by Starz would force it to charge more than the stand-alone streaming price.

“We are focused on providing the best content experience for our customers and continually evaluate which channels meet their needs and preferences relative to the cost of the programming imposed by content owners,” an Altice USA spokeswoman said. “Given that Starz is available to all consumers directly through Starz’ own over-the-top streaming service, we don’t believe it makes sense to charge all of our customers for Starz programming, particularly when their viewership is declining and the majority of our customers don’t watch Starz. We have offered and remain open to a deal with Starz to offer the content to customers who want it but they refuse.”

Starz has challenged Altice’s claim that ratings have been in decline. The entire Starz-Encore channel pack reached about 1.32 million viewers per month in 2017 in Cablevision homes, according to Nielsen, which compares to 1.55 million viewers for Showtime’s channel suite and 1.72 million for HBO.

According to the complaint, Starz reached out to Altice on Sept. 20 with a new written carriage proposal. Altice responded on Nov. 28. Starz sent back a counteroffer on Dec. 4, which was followed by a meeting Dec. 20 between John Huncke, Starz’ senior VP of affiliate distribution, and Bradley Fleisher, senior VP of programming at Altice.

The sides began to discuss the possibility of a short-term extension at that time. According to the complaint, Altice chief content officer Michael Schreiber told Starz that an extension would only happen if Starz “provided all of its programming services for free.” Starz declined.

Negotiations continued all day on Dec. 31 before the channels went dark at midnight.

Starz has blasted Altice for failing to offer rebates to customers who paid the monthly fee for Starz but are no longer receiving the channels. Altice said it has begun to offer rebates.

(Pictured: “Outlander”)

More TV

  • Florence and the Machine

    Florence & the Machine Premiere New Song on 'Game of Thrones'

    [pmc=related] If the voice singing the song during the end credits of “Game of Thrones” tonight sounded familiar — or unmistakable — yes, it was Florence + the Machine. The group’s version of the original “Game of Thrones” song “Jenny of Oldstones” debuted during the closing credits of this season’s second episode, following a rendition [...]

  • Game of Thrones Fan Theories

    Best Fan Theories for the Final Season of 'Game of Thrones'

    After eight seasons, “Game of Thrones” fans will finally see if their long-held theories will pay off. Dozens of important characters and a complex plot have made diehard viewers try to foresee plot twists for years. With the original R+L=J theory confirmed, meaning that Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark were the real parents of Jon [...]

  • Abigail Disney on Bob Iger

    Abigail Disney Calls Bob Iger's $65 Million Compensation 'Insane'

    Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger’s total compensation for Disney’s fiscal 2018 was a whopping $65.6 million. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder Roy Disney, calls that sum “insane.”  While speaking at the Fast Company Impact Council, the filmmaker and philanthropist insisted that this level of corporate payout has a “corrosive effect on society.” Disney took [...]

  • Tryion Lannister Game of Thrones Episode

    'Game of Thrones' Season 8 Episode 2 Leaks

    The second episode of “Game of Thrones'” final season has leaked online ahead of its Sunday night debut. Fear not, “Thrones” fans: though the internet is dark and full of spoilers, this post is free of any details from Season 8 episode 2. Rumblings of a leak began on the “Game of Thrones” Reddit and [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Signs of Solidarity and Strain Emerge as Week 2 of WGA-Talent Agency Standoff Begins

    Hundreds of WGA members rallied solidly behind their union last week as the industry grappled with uncertainties spurred by the sudden break between writers and their talent agency representatives. But as the standoff heads into its second week, signs of strain among some WGA members are beginning to emerge. Shalom Auslander, author and creator of [...]

  • Jon Snow Arya Stark Game of

    'Game of Thrones' Final Season Vegas Odds Reveal Wild Theories

    With “Game of Thrones” hype at an all-time high, Las Vegas may be raking in as much money as the Iron Bank. HBO’s fantasy masterpiece has seized the gambling world’s attention nearly as much as the Super Bowl or Kentucky Derby. Fans spew countless theories on social media, such as which characters will be axed [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content