Univision Nets Back on U-verse TV as Talks Continue

U-verse TV's universe of Spanish-language television channels once again includes Univision.

AT&T’s telco-TV service on March 24 restored Univision Communications-owned broadcast network UniMás and pay TV channel Galavisión to its channel lineup, some 20 days after U-verse pulled the plug on those two channels and flagship network Univision.

AT&T had restored Univision to U-verse TV on March 9, a good-faith “temporary” gesture to allow Hispanic U-verse subscribers to watch that evening’s Democratic Presidential Debate telecast co-hosted by Univision and The Washington Post.Further temporary extensions came following the debate.

Univision's initial reaction to AT&T's decision to black out its networks was fierce. The broadcaster accused the telco of undervaluing Univision and the Hispanic audience.

"We are always proud to stand with the Hispanic community, regardless of the costs to Univision," the Spanish-language media firm said in a March 7 statement. "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 No. 1, 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?"

Since then, Univision and AT&T have remained relatively mum as negotiations continue to renew the deal that expired Feb. 28. In a February internal memo to employees, Univision said it made several attempts to open negotiations with AT&T but the telco had not moved forward to renew its pact with the broadcaster. For its part, AT&T said in a statement that it was in talks with Univision.

One reason for AT&T’s reluctance to make a new deal could be tied what some analysts have said are AT&T's efforts to shift U-verse customers to its recently acquired DirecTV platform. A DirecTV-Univision carriage deal was struck in March 2013.

As of March 31, there are no official updates as to when Univision and AT&T might reach terms on a new deal.

Separately, NBCUniversal and satellite-TV provider Dish Network are at odds over carriage of Telemundo's 16 owned-and-operated TV stations and cable network NBC Universo. NBCUniversal's networks remain on Dish as part of a cooling-off period tied to arbitration invoked by the satellite provider.