2018-01-31 / Front Page

Summary of Starz Filing

In their recent opposition to our petition, Altice never disputes the fact that they shut down Starz programming in the middle of the night without providing the required 30-day notice to their customers.  In fact, they readily admit that they gave their customers one minute’s notice, in the middle of the night, on New Year’s Eve.  They never dispute the fact that over 60,000 customers have tried to complain about losing Starz programming, nor do they deny that they have failed to either handle their calls or explain what happened.  In fact, the only thing Altice has made clear to its customers is that it’s keeping their money for the Starz channels it’s not delivering.  They never even deny that they failed to provide the FCC-mandated 30 days’ notice.  Their defense is that prior notice is “obsolete” and no longer important.  They call it an “abstract principle rather than a requirement.”

We couldn’t disagree more.  All we’re asking is that the FCC require Altice to comply with basic cable consumer protection requirements.  They need to tell Altice that consumers have rights and violating them is wrong.  And they should tell Altice to do what’s required by delivering Starz to its customers, giving them notice and providing a real explanation of their choices.

Starz Fact Sheet

Throughout this dispute, Altice has issued one false and misleading statement after another –

*  They say they were willing to extend the existing agreement.  The truth is they were NEVER willing to extend the status quo and pay us for our programming while we negotiated a new long-term agreement, because their goal was always to pay us less while charging their customers more.

 

*  They say that Starz pulled its programming.  The truth is they shut it down in the middle of the night, and Starz has never stopped providing its transmission to Altice to this day.

 

*  In response to our contention that they failed to give their customers the 30-day notice required by law, they say that they did give them notice.  The truth is, by their own admission, they gave them one minute, in the middle of the night, on New Year's Eve.

 

*  They say that they dropped our programming because it wasn’t popular with their customers.  The truth is that massive numbers of Altice customers love our programming as evidenced by the fact that nearly a million of them chose packages containing Starz.  And among that group of Optimum customers, more households watched Starz than any other premium network (1)

 

* They say that they are committed to quality programming.  The truth is that they replaced 16 premium Starz channels, including 4 of the top 10 dramas on premium television (2) and thousands of hours of world-class content, with The Cowboy Channel and three other inferior replacements

 

* They say that they respect their customers.  The truth is they cut off their Starz service in the middle of the night, ignored and mishandled their complaints, conducted a bait and switch with inferior replacements, and still refuse to refund their money.

 

Altice continues to look for every excuse to pay less while charging its customers more.  Once again, we ask them to do the right thing – restore the Starz service to our nearly one million shared customers, or give them back their money.

 

(1)    Source: Nielsen, average monthly reach, 2017, 6 min qualifier, Live+7, Cablevision households

(2)    Source: Nielsen, HH Coverage Rating, 2017, Premiere telecasts, Live+7.

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