A line has been drawn in the sand in the dispute between Fox and Charter, the company that owns the cable provider now known as Spectrum in Kansas City.
On Sunday, Fox ran a commercial during the Royals-Astros game that said that if a deal wasn’t in place with Charter, subscribers might not have the opportunity to watch Royals games. During Monday’s game against Oakland, a scroll ran at the bottom of the screen with the same message.
The disagreement is over carriage fees, and Awful Announcing reported that last Friday’s deadline for a deal to be reached had been extended. But if an agreement is not reached Tuesday, Fox may pull channels such as Fox Sports Kansas City, Fox Sports, FX and the National Geographic Channel from Spectrum, which was formerly known as Time Warner Cable.
Fox News Channel, Fox Business and WDAF Channel 4 in Kansas City would not be affected.
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The Royals’ next game, which is Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. against the Oakland A’s, could be affected. Sporting Kansas City’s game Saturday at Portland also would be in jeopardy.
Fox has set up a website, KeepMyNets.com, which has a message that says: “Attention. Charter Spectrum Customers Including Former Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks Customers You May Lose Your Favorite Shows And Sports Today, Tuesday, April 11.
The Twitter account Ask Spectrum has been responding to questions from its subscribers with two statements:
“Our intention is to continue to provide Fox programming. We appreciate your patience as we work to resolve this issue” and “We are working with Fox to continue providing its programming, and are committed to holding down the cost of your cable service.”
These disputes are not uncommon, and they have led to channel blackouts.
Last year, WDAF was knocked off of Dish Network for more than a week. In 2012, KMBC Channel 9 was briefly dropped by Time Warner Cable in a dispute over fees.
Stanley Cup Playoff games could potentially be missed in one the 19 markets with a Fox Sports affiliate, but locally, the Royals are a big bargaining chip in the battle.
Over the last two seasons, the Royals have led Major League Baseball in local ratings, according to Nielsen. Games on FSKC averaged a 10.9 household rating for the season. The Cardinals were second in local-market broadcasts at 8.2.
Predictably, both sides have blamed the other for the disagreement.
“Fox and Charter Spectrum have an agreement to carry the Fox networks that Charter has chosen to ignore,” Fox said in a news release. “We are disappointed that despite our best efforts over many months to resolve the situation without disruption, Charter’s 16 million subscribers may lose access to a wide variety of programming, including telecasts of the Royals on FOX Sports Kansas City, as well as the St. Louis Cardinals and Blues, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cincinnati Reds and many other MLB, NBA and NHL teams on Fox Regional Sports Networks, FX’s hit dramas The Americans and Feud, and National Geographic.”
In a statement, Charter Spectrum wrote (per Deadline Hollywood): “Fox is trying to gouge our customers using the increasingly common tactic of threats and removal of programming. They are attempting to extort Charter for hundreds of millions of dollars. We will continue to work towards a fair agreement.”