It what is becoming the cable industry’s version of Waiting for Godot, Fox Network Group has apparently granted yet another extension in its ongoing carriage battle with Charter Communications.
Fox Networks Group began warning Charter customers on April 7 that they could lose access to FX Networks, Fox Sports, National Geographic Channels and several regional sports networks. That deadline has since moved to April 10, 11, 12 and last night became April 13.
The dispute is over money and stems from Charter’s May purchase of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.
According to people familiar with the matter, Fox Networks still has an ongoing carriage deal with legacy Charter, but its Time Warner Cable deal expired on March 31. Charter wants to continue paying Fox under the lower Time Warner Cable rate for all its systems, including the legacy Charter systems, while Fox wants all of Charter's 17 million customers to fall under the existing, pricier Charter legacy deal.
It is similar to a dispute Fox News Channel has with Charter -- FNC filed a lawsuit last year to try to work it out -- that also has yet to be resolved. It should be noted that the Fox Networks Group channels were not part of the Fox News Channel suit and have not taken Charter to court over their impasse with the distributor.
Charter has claimed that Fox is demanding exorbitant rate increases while the programmer says it simply wants to be fairly compensated for its content.
“Fox is trying to gouge our customers using the increasingly common tactic of threats and removal of programming,” Charter said in a statement. “They are attempting to extort Charter for hundreds of millions of dollars. We will continue to work towards a fair agreement.”
Fox continues to operate a web site – www.Keepmynets.com -- to provide updates and other information to customers of Charter, which operates systems under the Spectrum brand. Fox networks also have run crawls during programs including FX's The Americans warning Spectrum customers that they might lose access to favorite shows.
“Fox and Charter have an agreement to carry the Fox networks that Charter has chosen to ignore,” Fox said on the website. “We’re disappointed that despite our best efforts to reach a resolution, Charter Spectrum subscribers could lose access to multiple Fox sports and entertainment networks on April 13. Charter’s tactics could result in its subscribers missing our popular programming including Fox Sports’ telecasts of the St. Louis Cardinals and Blues, Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cincinnati Reds and many other MLB, NBA and NHL teams on Fox Regional Sports Networks, Fox Deportes, National Geographic, and FX’s hit dramas The Americans and Feud as well as much more award winning programming.”