Disney Entertainment-owned channels including ABC and ESPN went dark Thursday night for Charter Spectrum subscribers after the companies failed to agree on terms for Charter to carry Disney programming.
The so-called carriage dispute came to a head as ESPN was airing both the U.S. Open tennis tournament and a college football game between the University of Utah and the University of Florida. Charter, a provider of broadband and cable services, has 14.7 million subscribers.
Disney-owned channels affected by the blackout include the Disney Channel, ESPN, Freeform, National Geographic and many local stations on the ABC network. Some major cities affected include Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Houston.
"The Walt Disney Company has removed their programming from Spectrum which creates hardship for our customers," Spectrum said in a statement on a website created by Charter called disneyespnfairdeal.com. "We offered Disney a fair deal, yet they are demanding an excessive increase."
The cable provider said Disney wants to limit the choice of packages for viewers, forcing them to pay for channels they may not necessarily want.
"They also want to limit our ability to provide greater customer choice in programming packages forcing you to take and pay for channels you may not want," Spectrum said. "The rising cost of programming is the single greatest factor in higher cable TV prices, and we are fighting hard to hold the line on programming rates imposed on us by companies like Disney."
Disney defended its pricing in a statement to CBS News. "Disney Entertainment has successful deals in place with pay TV providers of all types and sizes across the country, and the rates and terms we are seeking in this renewal are driven by the marketplace," the entertainment giant said.
Both Disney and Spectrum say they'll continue negotiating.
"We're committed to reaching a mutually agreed upon resolution with Charter and we urge them to work with us to minimize the disruption to their customers," Disney said.
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