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Will a contract dispute cause some cable channels to "go dark?"

Whether they like to watch professional sports, educational programming or reality television shows, all cable television customers have their favorite channels and programs. Paying monthly for cable television is often well worth it for those in Louisiana who want to access these channels. However, some cable television customers may find their favorite channels have "gone dark," due to contract disputes.

An ongoing contract dispute between the cable television company, Spectrum, and Fox Networks Group may mean a loss of channels for consumers. These channels include popular channels, such as Fox Sports, National Geographic and the FX network.

The contract dispute at issue initially began when the cable television company, Charter, acquired Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable in May 2016. The resulting company now goes by the name, "Spectrum."

Charter then started paying affiliate costs per Time Warner Cable's carriage deal. The deal was set to end on March 31, 2017. While the two sides have extended the deal, certain channels will go dark if a new agreement is not established.

According to a Fox spokesperson, Spectrum and the Fox Networks Group had a contract to carry Fox's channels, which Fox claims is being ignored, despite Fox's best efforts to reach a resolution. Fox has since created a website that would allow people to identify other cable television companies that carry Fox's channels if the contract dispute it has with Spectrum does not reach a resolution.

But, Spectrum's parent company maintains that the Fox Networks Group is utilizing threats and gouging in an extortion effort to obtain millions. They are seeking what they believe to be a fair resolution.

This situation serves as a reminder that when two companies have a contract dispute, it is not just the companies themselves that suffer a loss, but also consumers. Therefore, with any breach of contract, it is important that a fair and appropriate resolution be met in a timely manner.

Source: The Post-Standard, "Spectrum TV customers may lose Fox Sports, FX channels in contract dispute," Geoff Herbert, April 11, 2017

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