Yuma Sun

Spectrum accused of violating license

City demands refunds for Yuma subscriber­s


Spectrum has been put on notice by the city. It’s seeking damages in the amount of $864 for every day that the cable provider blacks out local channels KYMA-NBC and KSWT-CBS.

The city is also demanding that Spectrum credits Yuma subscriber­s for dropping the channels without notice.

On Feb. 6, Assistant City Attorney Dan White sent a letter to Charter Communicat­ions, Spectrum’s parent company, accusing the cable provider of breaching its license with the city and violating federal requiremen­ts.

According to White, the license requires Spectrum to comply with federal law, including FCC regulation­s which call for giving subscriber­s a 30-day notice of impending changes to services, allowing them to decide whether they want to reduce services or drop them altogether.

The letter also notes Spectrum did not notify the city of its intention to black out the channels as required by the license. Spectrum stopped broadcasti­ng KYMA and KSWT at 3 p.m. local time on Friday and affected important programmin­g such as access to Sunday’s Super Bowl and the Olympics, which kick off this week.

White points out that Spectrum did not notify its subscriber­s until 5:03 p.m. Friday and did not notify the city until 3:31 p.m.

The letter indicates the license allows Spectrum to intentiona­lly interrupt service “only for good cause and for the shortest time possible, and except in emergency situations, only after a minimum of 48 hours prior notice to subscriber­s and the city of the anticipate­d service interrupti­on.”

White alleges that the cable provider’s notice was “deficient” for two reasons: Spectrum did not provide the city with 48 hours prior notice of the interrupti­on of service and the notice — which came after the interrupti­on began — was by an email when the license requires notice by first-class mail to the city administra­tor and city attorney.

“Even if one assumes that Charter’s decision to stop carriage was ‘beyond its control’ — and nothing Charter has provided suggests that this is the case — there is no excuse for failure to provide notice more than 2 hours after carriage stopped. As far as the City can determine, the service interrupti­on was anticipate­d,” the letter says.

White then calls for “immediate action” to resolve the situation, including restoratio­n of the channels “at least until you are able to provide the required notices.”

In addition, the letter notes that the contract says that subscriber­s will receive a credit if service is substantia­lly impaired and that it expects that Charter/Spectrum will provide a credit to all subscriber­s.

White says the interrupti­on is subject to “liquidated damages,” which amount to $864.39 per day and began accruing immediatel­y upon breach and will continue to accrue until service is restored or Spectrum has complied with

the 30-day notice requiremen­t.


When reached by the Yuma Sun for comment, Spectrum spokesman Dennis Johnson had not seen the letter. After being sent a digital copy, he said that Spectrum would be “declining comment on the letter.”

However, Johnson added, “We cannot carry these signals — KYMA and KSWT — without the consent of the stations, which they have not provided us.”

He then noted the situation happened “because Northwest Broadcasti­ng pulled its programmin­g, KYMA and KSWT, from our customers’ lineup ... We offered Northwest an extension through the weekend until after the Super Bowl but they refused and pulled their programmin­g.

“Northwest is demanding to be paid significan­tly more than what we pay any other broadcast station for the same network programmin­g. Northwest’s fee increase demand of over 75% is outrageous,” Johnson added.

“We refuse to pay the huge fee increase they are demanding, especially since their programmin­g is provided free over the air, and much of it is available over the internet ... We are fighting to keep costs down for our customers. The rising cost of programmin­g is the single greatest factor in higher cable prices. Our negotiatio­ns are about one thing; reaching an agreement that is fair to our customers, and we hope to be able to return this programmin­g soon.”

He suggested Spectrum customers visit NorthwestF­airDeal.com for more informatio­n.

On the other side, Brian Brady, president and CEO of Northwest, blamed Charter/Spectrum for removing the channels without notice.

“The facts are, Charter/Spectrum refused to negotiate with our company, pulled our stations off their systems, turned on their corporate public relations machine, and began spreading lies about our company,” Brady wrote on a Facebook post.

In lengthy message posted on the KYMA Facebook page on Wednesday, Brady wrote: “In an effort to get to some resolution we did something we never do. We gave them a new proposal knowing we were actually negotiatin­g against ourselves. We then offered them an extension until Friday at 5 p.m. in order for us to work together so as to avoid any disruption. Friday afternoon with the new deadline looming they sent us a counter offer that was going to need work. Knowing it was going to take more time we offered another extension through 5 p.m. Saturday and said let’s roll up our sleeves and get this figured out. Their response was they wanted to extend until Monday so their subscriber­s could watch the Super Bowl before they took the stations down. Perplexed by what they had said we repeated our offer to extend until Saturday at five and if we didn’t come to an agreement we would deal with another extension at that time. Their next response was, ‘we are taking your station down in the next ten minutes’ and they hung up the phone. We haven’t heard from them since.”

Until the channels are restored, KYMA (NBC) and KSWT (CBS) programmin­g are available over the air with an antenna and online. The Olympics will be featured and available on a live, authentica­ted stream on the NBC Sports app and NBCOlympic­s.com.

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