Several popular Fox-owned cable networks could soon disappear from the Spectrum cable lineup in Austin and elsewhere across the country if a long-simmering feud isn’t resolved.
Those networks include FX, FXX, FX Movie Channel, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild, Fox Deportes and Fox Sports Southwest.
Not affected are Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network and local Fox stations, such as Austin’s KTBC Channel 7.
Spectrum is the name Charter Communications assumed in many markets – including Austin – after acquiring Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Together, they have an estimated 16 million subscribers nationwide.
Commercials warning of an impending blackout have been airing on the Fox networks in recent days. Fox, in its message to viewers, claims the newly merged cable companies “have an agreement to carry the Fox networks that Charter has chosen to ignore.”
Spectrum, meanwhile, says in a written statement issued to news outlets that Fox wants more money for the channels than it’s entitled to receive.
“Fox is trying to gouge our customers using the increasingly common tactic of threats and removal of programming,” Charter said in a statement. “They are attempting to extort Charter for hundreds of millions of dollars. We will continue to work towards a fair agreement.”
Negotiations continue, both sides said. A definitive deadline to reach an agreement has not been made public.
“We’re disappointed that despite our best efforts to reach a resolution, Charter Spectrum subscribers could lose access to multiple Fox sports and entertainment networks,” Fox’s message says. “Charter’s tactics could result in its subscribers missing our popular programming including Fox Sports’ telecasts of the St. Louis Cardinals and Blues, Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cincinnati Reds and many other MLB, NBA and NHL teams on Fox Regional Sports Networks, Fox Deportes, National Geographic and FX’s hit dramas ‘The Americans’ and ‘Feud’ as well as much more award-winning programming.”
Disputes like this one aren’t unusual. Talks between cable and satellite providers and local TV stations and national networks routinely go down to the wire. Typically the sticking point is a request – or demand – from broadcasters for a higher per-subscriber fee than what’s called for in the expiring contract.