NBC, Charter at Carriage Loggerheads

NBCUniversal said it is at an impasse in its carriage negotiations with Charter Spectrum and that the content company’s cable and broadcast networks will likely go dark when their respective agreements expire Dec. 31.

“NBCUniversal values its partnership with Charter Spectrum, our third largest distributor,” the Comcast-owned programmer said in a statement. “Charter Spectrum has been unyielding in its demand for terms superior to those agreed to by the rest of the industry, including larger distributors. Given this position, we feel the responsibility to inform viewers that Charter Spectrum may drop NBCUniversal’s networks at the end of the year, including NBC, Telemundo, USA, Bravo and hit shows including the #1 show on TV — Sunday Night Football, WWE, the Golden Globes, This is Us and more.”

Charter officials declined to comment, but noted any loss of signal in a dispute would have to be initiated by the programmer.

Charter is the second largest cable operator and the third largest pay TV provider in the country with about 17 million customers, trailing DirecTV and Comcast. The cable operator bulked up with more than $90 billion worth of acquisitions, closing its $80 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable and its $10.4 billion purchase of Bright House Networks in May.

The cable company tweaked the noses of some programmers earlier this year when it tried to impose Time Warner Cable’s rate card on its Charter systems. Some programmers objected, claiming those old, pricier deals with Charter weren’t set to expire until later, prompting some to file lawsuits. Charter, according to some of the suits, had tried to explain the shift by claiming it was acquired by TWC, not the other way around. 

NBCU has set up a informational web site for customers concerning the dispute at Delivermyshows.com, and has provided a toll-free number for customers at 1-844-55-Deliver (1-844-553-3548).

If the dispute goes long, Charter customers stand to miss sports programming like NFL Sunday Night Football, the NHL Centennial Classic and Premier League soccer on NBC as well as returning broadcast shows like Blindspot (Jan. 4); The Blacklist (Jan. 5); The 74th Golden Globe Awards (Jan. 8) and This is Us (Jan.10).