A Florida Spectrum customer has sued Spectrum’s parent company, Charter Communications, after a disagreement between the company and Disney led to a blackout of ESPN, ABC, and other Disney channels on Labor Day weekend.
Charter Communications Sued
“Spectrum pulled the plug on college football and then blamed Mickey Mouse,” reads the class action lawsuit filed by Tampa, Florida resident Jen Gonzalez.
Disney and Charter are fighting over how much Disney wants to charge Charter for their content and how much Charter customers will pay. Charter calls their offer a “transformative deal” combining TV packages and streaming subscriptions, while Disney said Charter refuses to enter an agreement that “reflects Market-based terms” (via The New York Times). As contract negotiations failed, Disney channels became unavailable to Spectrum customers.
“Family and friends across America were eagerly waiting for the highly anticipated, beginning of college football, beginning on August 31, 2023, at 8:00 p.m. Instead, the Gator Nation, along with football fans across the country experienced a ‘Lucy taking the football away from Charlie Brown’ moment as Spectrum pulled the football game, broadcasted a blackout, and then claimed, ‘Disney made us do it,’” the lawsuit states.
It provides the following message, which appeared on Disney channels beginning August 31:
The Walt Disney Company, the owner of this channel, has removed their programming from Spectrum which creates hardship for our customers. We apologize for the inconvenience and are continuing to negotiate in good faith in
order to reach a fair agreement.
We offered Disney a fair deal, yet they are demanding an excessive increase. They also want to limit our ability to provide greater customer choice in programming packages forcing you to take and pay for channels you may not want. We are very disappointed with their position, which has negatively impacted our
Spectrum is on your side and fighting to keep costs down while protecting and maximizing customer choice. The rising cost of programming is the single greatest factor in higher cable TV prices, and we are fighting hard to hold the line on programming rates imposed on us by companies like Disney.
In a press release, Charter called the “current video ecosystem […] broken” and said they are “disappointed” that Disney has “insisted on unsustainable price hikes and forcing customers to take their products, even when they don’t want or can’t afford them.”
Disney responded with their own press release and set up keepmynetworks.com with links for Spectrum customers to contact Spectrum and tell them they want to keep Disney networks, as well as links to other providers. Disney and other cable providers did reach agreements.
Gonzalez is suing for deceptive trade practices and breach of contract as customers continued to be billed the full amount, despite not all promised channels being available.
Instead of providing the programming its viewers pay hundreds of dollars a month for, Spectrum, in the middle of the U.S. Open, college football and the start of the Labor Day weekend – easily one of the busiest TV weekends of the year, decided to use sport’s fans and other spectrum consumers as a pawn in a clear money grab. To make matters worse they attempted to divide people and anger them with an anti-Disney campaign.
The lawsuit demands Charter provide the channels or reimburse customers.
The following Disney-owned channels, as listed in the lawsuit, have been affected:
ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU, ESPN News, SEC Networks, ACC Network, Longhorn Network, FX, FX Movie Channel, FXX, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, BabyTV, Freeform, ABC7 Chicago, ABC7 Los Angeles, ABC7 New York, ABC7 SanFransico, ABC11 Raleigh-Durham, ABC13 Houston, and ABC30 Frenso.
Have you been affected by the blackout? Let us know in the comments.