Univision Goes Dark on U-verse

Spanish-language programmer says issue is parity with English-language channels

According to Univision, its networks and stations went dark on AT&T U-verse as of midnight Eastern time after the two sides failed to reach a carriage aggreement.

Univision had warned staffers late last month that there could be a blackout.

“Despite Univision’s tireless efforts to reach an agreement, AT&T is denying its U-verse customers access to our networks and stations, which have the most popular Spanish-language news, sports and entertainment," Univision said in a statement early Friday (March 4). Univision said the issue was not getting paid fair value for its channels, on par with English language networks.

"AT&T is redlining our audience by refusing to recognize the value of the Univision networks and the consumers we serve," the company said. "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. These disputes can be confusing for consumers, but in our case it’s simple: we must receive fair compensation, on par with English language broadcasters."

AT&T responded: “Univision has blocked our U-verse customers from receiving most of their channels. This is about nothing more than Univision demanding we pay an outrageous price increase.  We are fighting for all of our customers to keep what Univision charges at a reasonable amount. Numerous and diverse programming deals we have signed recently prove this can be accomplished." The company said it hoped Univision could join that group. "We hope to resolve this matter quickly and appreciate our customers’ patience. Spanish-language channels are important to us and our customers. That’s why we carry 78 Spanish-language channels.”

In addition to Univision stations, the blackout includes UniMás, Galavisión and Univision Deportes Network which, along with other programming, carry popular soccer games.

AT&T has been steering new TV customers toward DirecTV, which has a Univision carriage agreement. AT&T has about 5.6 million U-verse customers and about 20 million DirecTV customers.

An AT&T spokesperson would not comment on whether negotiations are ongoing or, if not, when they would resume.

Mike Farrell contributed to this report.