Fox, Charter Dispute Drags On

Programmer moves line in sand for third straight day

Fox Networks Group continues to be locked in a carriage dispute with Charter Communications, but has yet to play its biggest card – pulling its signal – as three deadlines have passed without an agreement.

Fox began warning Charter customers on April 7 that they were close to losing access to programming from FX Networks, National Geographic Channels, Fox Sports and several regional sports networks on April 8 if a deal wasn’t reached. When that deadline passed without an agreement, Fox said Charter had until April 10 to sign a deal or face a blackout. Early Tuesday, that deadline was moved to April 11. Now, with no deal again in sight, the line in the sand has been pushed to April 12.

The dispute centers around Charter's recent purchase of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, which was completed in May. 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 -- it  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.

In the meantime, the extensions and the rhetoric keep coming.       

“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 has set up a website – – to keep customers abreast of the negotiations.

“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 11,” Fox said on the website. “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.