Blackout continues as Univision and AT&T feud lingers on
AT&T and Univision Communications, the nation’s largest Spanish language media company, are currently entangled in a conflict over programming fees, the Dallas Morning News reports.
Unable to reach an agreement on a new contract, AT&T removed the signals of most of Univision's networks late last Thursday. The networks that were dropped included the Univision network, the secondary broadcast outlet UniMas and channels Galavision and Univision Deportes.
The outage, however, does not affect AT&T’s DirecTV customers since those subscribers are covered by a separate contract.
“It’s unfortunate the owners of Univision not only have blocked U-Verse customers from seeing their channels, but also have stooped to despicable allegations in an effort to extort an outrageous price increase -- an increase which ultimately will come at the expense of all our customers, including Univision viewers," Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs, told the Dallas Morning News.
The dispute, AT&T said, is about money.
“This is about nothing more than Univision demanding we pay an outrageous price increase,” AT&T said in a statement. “We are fighting for all of our customers to keep what Univision charges at a reasonable amount.”
The dispute comes at an important time for Univision. Owners of the media company are considering the thought of taking the company public, according to the Dallas Morning News. Univision had planned an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 2015, but it was put on hold due to a dramatic drop in the value of media companies.
Univision is expected to decide soon whether to go forward with the IPO this summer.
AT&T had spoke previously of plans to negotiate lowering fees for the TV networks carried on U-Verse. The company acquired DirecTV last summer, and DirecTV pays less per subscriber for some of the same channels that U-Verse carries. AT&T wants to bring the U-Verse rates into alignment with those paid by DirecTV.
“We’ve already renegotiated a ton of contracts and as a result of that, we are bringing U-verse content costs down now,” John Stankey, chief executive of the AT&T Entertainment Group, said earlier this week at a Morgan Stanley investor conference in San Francisco, according to dallasnews.
Univision alleged that AT&T was harming Latino consumers.
“AT&T is redlining our audience by refusing to recognize the value of the Univision networks and the consumers we serve,” Univision said in its 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.”