East Coast Governors Urge Disney, Charter to Resolve Cable Dispute

East Coast governors Kathy Hochul of New York and Roy Cooper of North Carolina separately urged Disney and Charter Communications to resolve their carriage dispute this week as the companies’ failure to reach a new distribution deal has left Spectrum customers unable to access Disney-owned TV networks.

After 1.5 million people in New York lost access to Disney’s portfolio, which includes ESPN and the ACC Network, among others, on Aug. 31, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called on the corporations to “resolve this dispute as soon as possible” on Friday.

“It’s simple: if you pay your cable bill, you deserve to get the services you pay for,” Hochul said, per several media reports. “An ongoing corporate dispute is forcing customers to miss some of the highest profile televised events of the year — the least these companies can do is provide a refund. Disney and Charter must continue negotiating in good faith to ensure affordability and consumer choice. I also urge Disney to continue providing its programming under the terms of the prior agreement while negotiations continue.”

Then, e this week, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper made similar remarks in a letter addressed to the companies, noting that the dispute “ruined” holiday football viewing for many of his constituents, leaving them “frustrated and angry.”

“Your customers pay a lot of their hard-earned money to watch your entertainment, and most of them don’t care how you divide the profits they help you earn,” Cooper wrote in a letter addressed Wednesday to Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger, ESPN Disney Media Networks president James Pitaro and Charter/Spectrum Communications president and CEO Christopher Winfrey. “But they do care that they are now paying for something they’re not getting and they want you to settle this dispute right away. As an avid sports fan myself, I second that sentiment.”

On Thursday, Charter CEO Chris Winfrey apologized to the cable company’s 14.7 million subscribers for any programming disruptions they experience over the course of the dispute, and noted his team’s determination to come to a new agreement.

“We all have a sense of urgency to resolve it quickly because our customers are stuck in the middle,” Winfrey said during an investor conference hosted by Goldman Sachs. “These are not just our customers, these are Disney customers, as well, and so we have a responsibility to try to solve it quickly.”

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