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Will Charter Communications (CHTR) Lose Fox Networks Lineup?

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Leading cable MSO (multi service operator) Charter Communications Inc. (CHTR - Free Report) continues to be locked in a carriage dispute with Fox Networks, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (FOXA - Free Report) . Fox began warning Charter customers about service termination on Apr 7, 2017. The three deadlines were on Apr 8, 11 and 12. However no retransmission deal has been renewed so far.

If the dispute continues, over 16 million subscribers of Charter Communications’ Spectrum TV may lose access to a wide variety of Fox Networks’ programming, including the St. Louis Cardinals and Blues, Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cincinnati Reds and several other MLB, NBA and NHL teams on Fox Regional Sports Networks, together with FX’s hit dramas 'The Americans' and 'Feud,' and National Geographic.

Ever since Charter Communications acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks in 2016, the company has been trying to get better deals from content providers and programmers. The cable MSO is pressing to leverage Time Warner Cable’s more favorable Fox networks retransmission deal, instead of the original Charter Communications contract which has already expired.

In Jul 2016, Fox News sued the cable operator, claiming that the company had breached its contract by trying to apply Time Warner Cable’s channel carriage rates and was not abiding by an agreement it signed with Fox to distribute Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.

In the same month, leading U.S. media giant CBS Corp. (CBS - Free Report) also filed breach-of-contract lawsuits against Charter Communications for the same reason. Interestingly, Charter Communications has structured its 2016 mega acquisitions in such a way that the newly combined MSO appears under the control of Time Warner Cable.

In Jan 2017, Hispanic TV network Univision Communications Inc., a subsidiary of Mexican cable TV and media behemoth, Grupo Televisa SA (TV - Free Report) sued Charter Communications accusing the U.S. cable company of breaching its TV carriage contract.

Price Performance of Charter Communications

Year to date the stock price of Charter Communications returned 16.22%, outperforming the Zacks categorized Cable TV industry’s gain of 14.14%. At present, the cable TV industry is facing a massive cord-cutting threat and Charter Communications is no exception. We believe that is the primary reason behind the stock currently carrying a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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