Altice USA struck back at Starz this week, urging the FCC to dismiss Starz’s emergency petition for injunctive relief.
Altice contends the petition was untimely and has no basis in law, fact, or policy.
“It [Starz’s FCC petition] is simply a transparent attempt by Starz to manipulate a regulatory process reserved for emergency situations to secure the carriage it failed to obtain based on the merits of its programming,” Altice wrote in its response filed with the Commission Tuesday.
Starz programming has been off Altice’s cable systems since Jan. 1 after carriage negotiations reached an impasse. Earlier this month Starz asked the FCC to intervene to get its programming back on Altice systems in the New York area, filing a petition for declaratory ruling, followed by the emergency petition for injunctive relief filed last week.
Altice asserts the petition was untimely because although it sought emergency relief, Starz waited nearly three weeks before seeking FCC intervention.
“This fact alone shows that there is no ‘emergency;’ it [Starz] would have acted promptly if it in fact had suffered irreparable harm, but it did not,” Altice wrote.
Altice also disputes Starz’s claim that the MSO knowingly ignored the FCC rule requiring operators to give customers 30-days’ notice of major programming changes, saying the accusation is false.
“The FCC requires that cable operators provide customers notice of programming changes at least thirty days in advance of the change when the change is within the control of the cable operator,” Altice wrote. “In this case, Altice did not know that an agreement for carriage would not be reached, despite its numerous offers, until December 31, 2017.”
Altice argues that it’s not the FCC’s place to get involved, as the failed carriage negations with Starz were not due to any violation of Commission rules, but because Starz was seeking fees that make “no economic sense for Altice and its customers.”
The cable operator also claims that Starz is undertaking public relations campaign “expressly designed to mislead customers and disrupt Altice’s call centers and customer operations.”
Starz, in addition to asking the FCC to restore carriage of Starz, StarzEncore, and Movieplex for a 30-day notice period, had also requested Altice “correct” its “misleading and false disclosures regarding its deletions of Starz’s channels,” and “respond to consumer inquiries and complaints” in compliance with FCC rules.
“It is the height of hypocrisy for Starz to launch a campaign designed to foil Altice’s ability to respond to its customers and then to complain about Altice’s supposed failure to respond,” Altice said in the filing.
Altice asserts Starz has not “even come close” to meeting the requirements for an emergency stay, including the need to show irreparable harm, and a likelihood of success on the case’s merits.
Filed Under: Industry regulations