Class action lawsuit filed – The Hollywood Reporter

The ongoing promotion dispute keeping Disney’s channels off Spectrum, Charter Communications’ cable television service, has led Charter subscribers to seek a class-action lawsuit against Charter, who allege they were being used as pawns in an “apparent money-grabbing” of the cable company been.

A lawsuit filed in Florida federal court on Tuesday alleges Charter allegedly turned down an offer by Disney to extend negotiations, causing Disney-owned networks like the ESPN networks to trade in the midst of major programming events, including the US Open Tennis Tournament and college football would have sustained consumers. An order is being sought that would require Charter to stop blocking Disney channels or provide a refund for those that are not provided. Charter has offered its customers a $15 discount, but only if they contact customer service.

The proposed class action alleges breach of contract and violations of Florida consumer protection laws. It is said to represent all charter customers whose access to Disney-owned networks was cut off by the blackout, as well as a smaller group of Florida consumers who were charged the full amount “despite not being granted access to all advertised services.” ” Charter is the second largest cable television company in the United States with approximately 14.7 million subscribers.

On August 31, charter customers experienced a sudden loss of service prior to the start of the University of Florida and University of Utah college football game that opened the college football season. When viewers contacted ESPN to watch the game, they received a message from Charter accusing Disney of removing its programming from Spectrum.

“We made Disney a fair offer, but they are asking for an excessive increase,” the statement said. “They also want to limit our ability to offer our customers a greater choice of programming packages by forcing you to use and pay for channels you may not want. We are very disappointed in their position which has had a negative impact on our customers.”

The dispute has continued to discourage charter customers from accessing Disney channels, including the SEC and ACC networks, FX and National Geographic. The lawsuit alleges consumers continue to suffer harm in the form of financial losses due to overpricing for unperformed services and the inconvenience of having to find alternatives to watch the show they want.

“Charter knew the debts they sought to collect were improper because the defendants actually knew they were not performing the contracted services that they were required to perform,” the complaint reads.

The lawsuit argues that charter consumers are essentially being held hostage by the company that wants to transform the economics of pay-TV. The two sides have been negotiating what Charter executives called a “transformative” deal that could help create a “glide path” from industry erosion caused by cable cuts and streaming. Other TV providers may benefit from the potential deal due to a most-favoured-nation clause, allowing them to benefit from better deals. Charter has addressed Disney’s demands for higher licensing fees and less packaging flexibility, saying the company is “ignoring the realities of a changing market.”

The company has threatened to exit the video business altogether if it doesn’t come to an agreement with Disney. The message, sent to customers early in the blackout, said, “Increasing programming costs are the biggest factor behind higher cable TV prices, and we’re struggling hard to meet the programming fees imposed on us by companies like Disney.” ”

Notably, Sunday’s college football game between Florida State and LSU averaged 9.1 million viewers on ABC — a 20 percent increase from the same game last year and a seven-year high on the network — though Charter had blocked the channel for its subscribers, according to Nielsen data.

Charter did not respond to a request for comment.

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