Fox, Altice Fee Dispute Could Lead to Blackout

Fox Warns of Optimum Blackout
Fox warns about being dropped by Optimum on WNYW-TV's website (Image credit: Fox)

With their distribution agreement set to expire Friday, Fox and Altice are warning viewers they could be facing a programming blackout Friday at midnight.

The dispute over retransmission and cable carriage fees could affect local stations including WNYW-TV in New York and cable channels FS1, FS2, Fox News, Fox Business Network and the Big Ten Network, and comes at a time when Fox has a heavy sports lineup, including NFL games, college football and Major League Baseball playoffs.

Also: Verizon, Nexstar Warn of Potential Blackout Friday

As usual each side blames the other for the potential blackout.

"Optimum is committed to keeping our customers connected to the TV content they love, and we are currently in active negotiations with Fox Networks to continue carrying its suite of channels at a reasonable rate that reflects the best interest of our customers," Altice said in a statement. "Unfortunately, Fox Networks is demanding unprecedented and excessive fee increases that would raise TV bills. We are working hard to reach a fair deal for our customers and to avoid any disruption."

In a statement, Fox said it remains committed to reaching a "fair agreement" with Altice for continued carriage to Optimum customers.

"Despite our best efforts for months, we regret that Altice continues to demand special treatment and reject marketplace terms, compelling us to alert our loyal viewers of a potential blackout of all Fox channels by Optimum," Fox said. "This means Optimum subscribers could lose access to the MLB playoffs on Fox and FS1, The World Series, NFL on Fox, College Football on Fox Sports, Fox News, hit shows like The Masked Singer and 9-1-1, local news, and more.  While Fox continues to seek an agreement benefiting all parties, our priority is ensuring viewers' ability to access all Fox News, Fox Sports, Fox Entertainment and local Fox station programming. We encourage subscribers to visit www.KEEPFOX.com for more information."

In 2018, when Fox and Altice last negotiated, the Fox channels went dark for few hours on a Monday morning before an agreement was reached. ■

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.