Altice USA has fired back at Starz over the cable network’s FCC request for emergency injunctive relief in the carriage standoff that is now in its fourth week. Starz has been dark on Altice USA systems since Jan. 1. Last week, Starz asked the FCC to order Starz-Encore channels back on Altice USA systems because the operator violated FCC rules regarding giving subscribers notice of a major programming change. Altice on Tuesday argued in its response to the FCC that Starz’ complaint “has no basis in fact, law or policy.”
As the Starz-Altice USA carriage dispute drags on, the Lionsgate-owned network has filed two separate petitions with the FCC that aim to force the cable company to restore it on New York-area Optimum systems.
While Starz remains dark on Altice USA’s Optimum cable systems, the premium cable network has reached a new multi-year carriage deal with Verizon FiOS, Optimum’s rival in the New York metro area.
Last-minute negotiations over carriage rights for Starz and Encore on the Altice USA cable systems failed, resulting in the channels going dark as of the new year.
Starz Entertainment confirmed Thursday that it laid off about 50 workers due to a reorganization that began last spring. But the job cuts have nothing to do with the cable channel’s pending $4.4 billion merger with Lionsgate Entertainment. Instead, they stem from Starz rebranding the Encore channels into Starz Encore in April. The jobs affected were in creative departments.
Liberty Media has started sending out feelers to potential buyers for its premium channel Starz. Liberty has reached out to media companies ahead of the expected mid-January spinoff of its pay TV division, which includes the Starz and Encore channels, sources say.