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Univision sues Charter Communications over post-merger carriage fees

Univision has filed a lawsuit Friday against Charter Communications over post-merger carriage fees.
(Reed Saxon / Associated Press)

Univision has filed a lawsuit against Charter Communications over license fees in the wake of the cable company’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable.

The lawsuit, which was filed Friday in New York Supreme Court, alleges that Charter Communications is using its recent acquisition of Time Warner Cable to impose license fees that are “dramatically below” market prices for the right to carry the Spanish-language broadcasting titan. The suit does not specify the amount of the fees.

Miami-based Univision is asking for a declaration to clarify language in its Charter and Time Warner Cable programming contracts. Univision also sued Charter for breach of contract.

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Charter completed its $71-billion purchase of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in May, making Charter the nation’s second-largest broadband Internet provider, behind Comcast, and the third-largest pay-TV distributor behind AT&T and Comcast.

Univision alleged in its suit that Charter did not comply with a provision under its 2014 carriage deal that required rates of an acquired company to remain in place until the end of the calendar year.

Univision said the suit was precipitated by months of unsuccessful attempts to renegotiate its deal with Charter before its carriage agreement expired. Univision alleges that Charter was trying to claim that the old Time Warner Cable agreement with Univision, which was set to run through June 2022, should be the contract in place. Because Time Warner Cable was a larger operation than Charter, it was able to negotiate better retransmission deals for Univision and its cable channels.

“Quite simply, Charter promised one thing publicly in order to secure approval for its acquisition and is now privately claiming the exact opposite to Univision,” Univision said in a statement.

In a statement, Charter said: “We have a long-term contract with Univision and we expect them to honor it.”

Univision, which owns a variety of cable channels and a chain of popular Spanish-language radio stations, said it would seek damages to compensate for the difference in licensing fees.

yvonne.villarreal@latimes.com

Twitter: @villarrealy

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