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Starz, Optimum’s Parent Company Go Down to the New Year’s Wire for New Deal

Premium network’s deal with Altice USA’s cable division expires at midnight Sunday

The clock is ticking on negotiations between Starz and Altice over distribution, which is set to expire at midnight Sunday.

Partnership between the satellite network and Altice, the Euro-based telecoms company that acquired Cablevision in 2016, has run aground, with Starz saying, “Altice is demanding a totally unreasonable agreement unlike anything that has previously existed in our 20-year partnership.”

Altice counters, attributing the negotiation stalemate to Starz’s declining viewership on its systems and their increase in programming costs.

“Since our last contract renewal, Starz began offering a direct to consumer streaming service, which drastically changes the value proposition their network provides us and our customers,” Altice said in a statement.

“Regardless, Starz is asking for outrageous increases in programming costs and, given the limited viewership of Starz amongst our customer base and the different ways consumers can directly access Starz content, we are working to reach an agreement that is reasonable and reflects the best interests of all our customers.”

Starz took out ads in Saturday’s New York Times and New York Post, warning its 4.9 million subscribers across 21 states — much of which serves African-American, Hispanic, women and LGBTQ viewers — of possible blackout come midnight on New Year’s Eve.

“We urge [Altice] to join with us in working to reach an agreement that is fair, reasonable and operates in the best interests of our customers,” Starz said continued, “many of whom cannot otherwise find programming that speaks directly to them.”