Hochul urges Disney, Spectrum to resolve issues

State Gov. Kathy Hochul has interrupted the dispute between Spectrum Cable and Walt Disney Co., which owns ESPN, to offer an important message.

In a news release issued Friday, Hochul is directing the Department of Public Service to hold Spectrum Northeast, LLC and Spectrum New York Metro, LLC (collectively “Charter”) accountable and ensure the company delivers refunds for New York consumers who have experienced disrupted service amid the ongoing cable dispute between Charter and The Walt Disney Company (Disney), two of the largest entertainment companies in the United States.

Nearly 15 million cable viewers nationwide – more than 1.5 million in New York state – lost access to ESPN and other Disney-owned channels on Aug. 31 when Disney and Charter were unable to renew a distribution deal. Hochul has directed the Department of Public Service to ensure Charter is providing customers with appropriate refunds for any period that customers cannot access Disney-owned channels during the dispute.

“It’s simple: if you pay your cable bill, you deserve to get the services you pay for,” Hochul said. “An ongoing corporate dispute is forcing customers to miss some of the highest profile televised events of the year – the least these companies can do is provide a refund. Disney and Charter must continue negotiating in good faith to ensure affordability and consumer choice. I also urge Disney to continue providing its programming under the terms of the prior agreement while negotiations continue. My Administration is committed to consumer protections for all New Yorkers.”

Hochul is urging the companies to resolve this dispute as soon as possible. As the contract negotiations continue, more customers are becoming aware of the lapse in certain programming and understandably have questions about refunds. New Yorkers have lost access to channels that broadcast a variety of different programming, including some of the highest-profile televised events of the year: the U.S. Open, the Bills playing the Jets on Monday Night Football, and family-friendly shows. The Governor’s directive to the Department of Public Service is to reduce confusion and ensure that all customers are refunded. DPS sent a letter to Charter today as part of their efforts to hold the company accountable and swiftly deliver refunds to customers who have been affected by the lapse in Disney-owned programming.

Department of Public Service CEO and Public Service Commission Chair Rory M. Christian said, “Governor Hochul is giving voice to millions of New Yorkers who are frustrated that they cannot view all of their cable channels, and who have a right to be refunded for services that they are unable to access. The Department of Public Service will work diligently to ensure Charter provides customers appropriate bill credits in a timely manner.”

While the Spectrum-Disney dispute has lasted a week, DirectTV customers across Western New York are also being shut out of the local CBS affiliate. Channel 4 carries a number of Buffalo Bills games during the season. This week’s contest against the New York Jets will be televised on WKBW-TV, Channel 7.

On its website, WIVB-TV blames the provider for removing the channel. However, it must be noted, the channels — whether it be ESPN or CBS affiliates — are the ones who dictate the removal, not the provider.


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