Altice USA Inc. is exploring the sale of Suddenlink, which provides cable and internet service in the south-central U.S., according to people familiar with the matter, as the telecommunications company seeks to pay down its massive debt load. Altice USA is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on the potential sale, which could fetch as much as $20 billion, said some of the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public. The unit has about $1.3 billion in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, some of the people said. Altice USA has begun soliciting interest from potential suitors, they said. The company could still decide to keep the division.
Cox Media Group and Altice USA/Suddenlink announced that they have reached a new multi-year retransmission consent deal for the ongoing carriage of CMG stations on Suddenlink lineups in Tulsa, Okla.; Memphis; Spokane, Wash.; Eureka, Calif.; Greenville-Greenwood, Miss.; and Alexandria, La. The agreement means that Suddenlink customers will have access to CMG’s station content, including local news, weather, sports, traffic and entertainment. The parties thanked consumers “for their patience during this negotiation.”
Cox Media Group TV stations in six markets have gone dark to Suddenlink subscribers in a dispute over retransmission consent fees. The blackout affects viewers in Tulsa, Okla.; Memphis; Spokane, Wash.; Eureka, Calif.; Greenville-Greenwood, Miss.; and Alexandria, La.
Wednesday evening at about 10:30 p.m. ET, Tegna said it “reached a multi-year agreement with Suddenlink with no interruption of service to viewers.” The previous retransmission consent contract was to expire at 11:59 p.m. ET. The agreement covers about 20 stations.
Tegna Inc. on Saturday released the following update on the status of negotiations with Suddenlink on a new retransmission consent agreement: “Tegna is working hard to reach a fair, market-based agreement with Suddenlink. While we hope a deal can be reached by 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 31 and avoid any interruption of service, we have a responsibility to inform our viewers of the current situation. We have begun notifying viewers of their options to continue watching our valuable local programming if the deadline passes without an agreement.”
French telecom mogul Patrick Drahi has named key members of his U.S. management team now that his Altice conglomorate has closed its $9.1 billion deal to acquire 70% of St. Louis-based cable operator Suddenlink.
The FCC has approved Altice NV’s $9.1 billion purchase of a controlling interest in Suddenlink Communications, clearing Patrick Drahi’s European telecom conglomerate to close on the purchase of the St. Louis-based cable operator.
On Thursday night, Fox Networks and Suddenlink reached an agreement in principle on a global broadcast and cable carriage agreement that includes retransmission consent for the Fox O&Os and its full portfolio of networks including FX, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild, Speed, Fuel TV, Fox Soccer, Fox Movie Channel, Fox Deportes, Fox College Sports and many Fox regional sports networks. Fox said: “We look forward to finalizing the agreement and are pleased that we could come to terms without any service interruption for Suddenlink customers and our loyal Fox viewers.”
The multi-year agreement covers retransmission consent for NBC and Telemundo owned TV stations and continued carriage of NBCU cable networks.
In comments to the FCC, a coalition of advocacy groups long opposed to media consolidation and cable operators say shared services agreements and other contractual deals that stop short of ownership, but let broadcasters operate two or even three stations in a market, need to be eliminated. These virtual duopolies, they say, reduce competition and news coverage while giving stations an unfair advantage in retrans negotiations with cable operators.
Suddenlink has debuted an online video service with thousands of full-length TV episodes, movies and video clips from HBO, Turner Broadcasting System and Hulu.