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Millions To Potentially Lose Access To NBC Universal Owned Channels

NBCUniversal and Charter Communications are in a carriage-negotiation standoff that could see millions of customers lose access to NBCU-owned channels beginning Jan. 1.

With both parties at an impasse, Comcast-owned NBCU has prepped a marketing campaign designed to appeal to Charter customers to pressure the cable provider into taking a more flexible negotiating stance. That campaign was set to launch late Thursday afternoon with a crawl that would run across the screens of Charter’s Spectrum customers watching NBCU channels, alerting them to the possibility of a programming blackout.

Sources tell Variety that Charter, which earlier this year completed a merger with Time Warner Cable, has rejected a package price for NBCU’s channels similar to that paid by other distributors, and that negotiations have stalled completely. The current Charter-NBCU deal is set to expire Jan. 1, raising the possibility that NBCU channels would be blacked out on Charter’s Spectrum service at that time. Among NBCU’s cable channels are Bravo, E!, Syfy, USA, MSNBC, CNBC, and Oxygen. Those channels reach 16 million subscribers via Charter Spectrum, making Charter NBCU’s third largest distributor. In a blackout, Spectrum customers in New York and Los Angeles would presumably lose access to NBCU-owned local NBC and Telemundo stations, affecting 2 million customers.