The Rhetoric has heated up in the carriage dispute between Univision and AT&T, with U-Verse owner AT&T using terms like "despicable."
Univision, backed by the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), has suggested AT&T was engaging in redlining--discriminating in pricing between English and Spanish-language networks.
On Friday, the NHMC joined the fight Friday, saying AT&T was taking Univision off the airwaves ahead of Univision’s March 9 debate and calling it "an injustice to Latino voters."
Technically, carriage is always under the control of the programmer, which is the only one that can grant a carriage extension once an agreement runs out.
"Today, AT&T took the unprecedented step of taking all Univision-owned stations off their U-Verse platform, serving 6 million homes...less than one week from the Univision-co-hosted Democratic debate in Miami, Fla., NHMC said.
NHMC President and CEO Alex Nogales called it "a grave injustice to voters looking to be informed."
AT&T fired back at the discrimination allegation Sunday in a blistering statement, suggesting it was OK with restoring the channels while they continued to negotiate.
“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. Spanish-language channels are important to us and our customers," said Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior EVP, external and legislative affairs. "AT&T’s focus is to offer a wide range of content for our Hispanic viewers, while keeping cost increases, and bills, down as much as possible. If Univision really cares about their audiences, they will immediately restore their channels to U-Verse homes while we figure this out. Go to att.com/FightingForYou to learn more," where AT&T makes its case in both English and Spanish.
AT&T had no comment on whether negotiations were ongoing or if not, when they would resume. Univision had no comment, but a Univision source said Friday that they continued to make themselves available to find a resolution, saying the top priority was providing their community access to vital content.
Univision channels went dark on U-Verse midnight Thursday.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.