Univision, AT&T Moderate Carriage Impasse Tone

Both Univision ramped down the rhetoric Monday (March 7) in their ongoing carriage fight.

Univision nets and stations have been off AT&T's U-Verse since March 4, when Univision suggested AT&T was "redlining" Hispanic viewers and AT&T countered that the charge was "despicable."

On Monday, Jessica Herrera-Flanagan, executive VP, government relations and public policy, released the following statement, which sounded a note of disappointment rather than anger, and even gave AT&T credit for a history of reasonable negotiations: “We are disappointed that after trying for months to engage with AT&T to reach an agreement, U-Verse customers lost access to the family of Univision networks at the end of last week, when our agreement expired.

We are always proud to stand with the Hispanic community, regardless of the costs to Univision. For us, it is about standing up for the future of multicultural media and the opportunity for it to thrive in a multiplatform marketplace.  In many of the markets U-Verse serves, Univision stations are ranked number one, regardless of language.  If, as the most popular Spanish-language broadcaster, we do not take a stand and require the distributors treat us on par with English-language broadcasters, what does that mean for the minority and independent creators that come after us?

We encourage AT&T to continue its tradition of valuing the Hispanic community by negotiating reasonably and respectfully towards a fair agreement.  We continue to make ourselves available to reach a resolution and restore Univision’s family of Spanish-language and multicultural content to U-Verse customers.”

Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior executive VP of external and legislative affairs, responded in a similar vein and tone.

“We appreciate the statement from Univision’s Ms. Herrera-Flanigan and her recognition of AT&T’s strong record on diversity and inclusion. One point requires clarification, though. U-verse customers did not simply ‘lose access to the family of Univision networks.’ That access was pulled by Univision, despite our offer to extend the carriage agreement temporarily while a new long-term agreement was being worked out.

“AT&T remains committed to Spanish language channels, and we currently carry 78 of them. We have been and continue to be committed to paying fair, market rates for content so U-verse customers are protected from big increases in their bills.  We continue to hope for a resolution of this matter consistent with those principles.”

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.