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NBCUniversal, Charter Extend Carriage Talks, Avert New Year’s Day Blackout

Variety logo Variety 1/1/2017 Cynthia Littleton
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NBCUniversal and Charter Communications have extended negotiations on a new carriage deal, averting the threat of a New Year’s Day blackout for NBC and other channels in top markets including New York and Los Angeles.

“Negotiations with Charter Spectrum for the NBCUniversal portfolio of networks have been extended. We will continue to negotiate in good faith so that Charter Spectrum customers can continue to receive NBCUniversal’s valuable networks and we hope to be able to reach a deal,” an NBC spokesman said in a statement.

According to NBCU, the sides came to an impasse on the negotiations earlier this week, prompting NBCU to take an aggressive on-air stance warning Charter customers of a possible blackout. The Sunday timing would have been bad for Charter given that football fans would have missed NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” telecast.

The carriage talks cover retransmission consent for NBC’s O&O stations plus its suite of cablers including USA Network, Syfy, Bravo, Oxygen, CNBC and MSNBC. Charter’s new stature as the nation’s second-largest cable operator behind Comcast, following its acquisition of Time Warner Cable, has raised the stakes and the profile of its negotiations with top programmers.

Charter at present is fighting legal battles with Fox News and Univision Communications over carriage deals and whether the new company is obligated to abide by the terms of pre-merger Charter contracts or the more advantageous terms of Time Warner Cable’s contracts.

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