Charter, NBCUniversal talks stall, threatening an NBC blackout for Spectrum customers

Green Bay Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers throws during an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings this month. The Packers meet the Detroit Lions in "Sunday Night Football" on Jan. 1.
(Matt Ludtke / AP)

Contract talks between cable giant Charter Communications and NBCUniversal hit an impasse Thursday. If the two companies fail to hammer out a new carriage deal before the current pact expires this weekend, it could lead to a blackout of NBC channels for Charter customers.

An outage of NBC channels, including local broadcast station KNBC-TV Channel 4, would affect more than 1.6 million homes in the Los Angeles region that subscribe to Charter’s Spectrum cable TV service. Charter is the largest pay-TV company in Southern California.

The current contract expires Jan. 1. If no deal is reached by then, Charter would not have the authority to distribute NBC channels.

A blackout could prevent NFL football fans from watching Sunday’s highly anticipated contest between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” NBC also would pull its other networks, including Telemundo, USA, Bravo, Syfy, E! and MSNBC, from Spectrum systems.


“Charter Spectrum has been unyielding in its demand for terms superior to those agreed to by the rest of the industry, including larger distributors,” NBCUniversal said in a statement. “Given this position, we feel the responsibility to inform viewers that Charter Spectrum may drop NBCUniversal’s networks at the end of the year.”

A Charter spokesman declined to comment.

Contentious distribution battles, and channel outages, have become more common in recent years as pay-TV providers, including AT&T, Charter and Dish Network, seek to hold the line on programming costs.

Charter has ruffled feathers in the industry by being more aggressive in its demands after it acquired Time Warner Cable. Charter took over Time Warner Cable’s systems earlier this year and rebranded the service as Spectrum.




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