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Millions of Charter cable customers lose Univision channels

Associated Press logo Associated Press 2/1/2017 By TALI ARBEL, AP Technology Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Spanish-language broadcast network Univision and the company's cable channels have gone dark for millions of Charter customers because of a payment dispute.

A Univision spokesman said Wednesday that customers in 37 markets, including New York and Los Angeles, home to large Hispanic communities, have lost access to Univision, the most popular Spanish-language network.

Univision also owns other networks, including cable channels Galavision and sports-focused Univision Deportes. Over-the-air broadcast networks like Univision can be watched by attaching an antenna to a TV, but cable channels aren't available that way.

Charter Communications Inc., the country's No. 2 cable provider, has roughly 17 million cable customers. Univision says Charter has 2.5 million Hispanic customers, citing research firm SNL Kagan.

Cable companies are trying to stem rising costs for the channels they beam out, which trickle down to customer bills. Fights with the owners of the networks can lead to channels being cut off. Blackouts can last just a few hours or for months.

New York-based Univision Communications' argument is that Charter has to negotiate a new distribution deal because it bought Time Warner Cable in 2016. Univision said in a Wednesday statement that Charter wasn't properly valuing Univision's content and viewers. Stamford, Connecticut-based Charter said it had a contract with Univision that it expected the company to honor.

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