Charter Spectrum Subscribers Sue Over Disney Blackout

Charter Spectrum subscribers have filed a class-action suit against the company, claiming they were used as pawns in a “clear money grab” by Charter.

Filed in federal court in Florida on Tuesday, the lawsuit accuses Charter of declining an offer from Disney to extend negotiations for their carriage deal, triggering a blackout of ESPN and other Disney channels as of August 31 that denied subscribers access to major sports events including the U.S. Open and the opening-season University of Florida vs. University of Utah football game.

The lawsuit charges that subscribers are continuing to be charged for undelivered services in violation of their subscriber contract, as well as forced to try to find alternate ways to watch programming from Disney channels, which also include National Geographic, FX, and the SEC and ACC networks, among others.



It makes reference to the University of Florida’s Florida Gators football fans -- known as the "Gator Nation" (team logo shown above) and describes the blackout as a “‘Lucy taking the football away from Charlie Brown’ moment.”

“To make matters worse [Charter] attempted to divide people and anger them with an anti-Disney campaign,” the lawsuit alleges. That included on-screen messaging on ESPN blaming Disney for the blackout. “

Charter has offered a $15 rebate, but only for subscribers who call customer service to obtain it, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which first reported the lawsuit.

Neither Charter or Disney has responded to press requests for comment on the legal action.

Charter said it drew the line with Disney over Disney’s demands for higher licensing fees and less flexibility in packaging.

Charter has threatened to drop Disney entirely, and even implied it might abandon the linear video business, unless a new model that takes into account how streaming and soaring sports licensing costs have undermined that business can be forged.

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