Computer Companies Side With Univision in Charter Carriage Fight

Computer companies are blaming "cable consolidation" for the carriage impasse between Charter and Univision that has resulted in a blackout, echoing Univision's statement Wednesday morning about the issue.

Citing Univision's assertion that Charter has rejected good-faith efforts at a deal, Computer & Communications Industry Association president Ed Black said in a statement circulated to reporters: “Unfortunately, this is the future that we predicted when we opposed recent consolidation attempts in the cable industry.

"Charter’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable reduced competition, which makes it easier for Charter to strong-arm Univision and similarly situated programmers. This is just one unfortunate manifestation of increased consolidation. Whether charging websites for an Internet fast lane, discriminating against connected third-party devices, or bullying independent programmers who rely on Charter for access to consumers in key markets such as Los Angeles and New York, cable industry consolidation increases the incentives and ability for cable companies, such as Charter, to engage in anticompetitive practices," Black said.

CCIA members include Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Samsung and eBay. The association had issues with the Charter-Time Warner Cable merger related to app-based access by third parties to MVPD programming.

Univision programming went dark on Charter systems effective at midnight Jan. 31.

Univision also pointed to the need for diverse voices. "Charter has an obligation to its customers to provide them with access to content that is in-language and in-culture, which is vitally important during these politically volatile times," Univision said in a statement.

CCIA echoed that: "Spanish speakers in Charter’s footprint will be deprived of news coverage at such an eventful time. This is just one example of a real world harm of increased consolidation in the cable industry.”

John Eggerton

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.