State Governors Call on Disney and Spectrum to Cut a New Carriage Deal

The Disney-Spectrum carriage dispute has hit the state houses in New York and North Carolina.

On Friday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul urged Charter Spectrum and The Walt Disney Co. to “resolve this dispute as soon as possible,” and authorized New York’s Department of Public Service to secure refunds for the state’s 1.5 million or so TV customers impacted by the impasse.

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“It’s simple: if you pay your cable bill, you deserve to get the services you pay for,” Hochul said in a statement Friday. “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.”

The comments from Hochul followed a similar pronouncement from North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, who also urged Spectrum and Disney to reach a new agreement this week.

Spectrum is the dominant cable company in New York City and upstate, and in most of North Carolina. It also operates in Los Angeles, Ohio, and in a number of other major markets.

“Your customers pay a lot of their hard-earned money to watch your entertainment and most of them don’t care how you divide the profits they help you earn,” Cooper wrote in a letter to the two companies. “But they do care that they are now paying for something they’re not getting and they want you to settle this dispute right away. As an avid sports fan myself, I second that sentiment.”

With the Spectrum-Disney dispute now over a week in, and with ESPN’s Monday Night Football opener just a few days away (the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills are playing), the pressure is ratcheting up on the companies to come to terms on a new deal.

Spectrum owner Charter Communications says it has “a sense of urgency” to resolve the dispute, but adds that it is prepared to move on without Disney content if it comes to that.

The dispute has billions of dollars at stake, though if Charter does decide to move on from its traditional TV business, the stakes could be far higher for the legacy TV business.

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