Governor directs state to seek refunds for customers with cable TV service disruptions

Posted 8 September 2023 at 1:15 pm

Spectrum customers have lost access to Disney, ESPN channels

Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office

Governor Kathy Hochul today directed the Department of Public Service to hold Spectrum Northeast, LLC and Spectrum New York Metro, LLC (collectively “Charter”) accountable and ensure the company delivers refunds for New York consumers who have experienced disrupted service amid the ongoing cable dispute between Charter and The Walt Disney Company (Disney), two of the largest entertainment companies in the United States.

Nearly 15 million cable viewers nationwide – more than 1.5 million in New York State – lost access to ESPN and other Disney-owned channels on August 31 when Disney and Charter were unable to renew a distribution deal.

Governor Hochul has directed the Department of Public Service to ensure Charter is providing customers with appropriate refunds for any period that customers cannot access Disney-owned channels during the dispute.

“It’s simple: if you pay your cable bill, you deserve to get the services you pay for,” Governor Hochul said. “An ongoing corporate dispute is forcing customers to miss some of the highest profile televised events of the year – the least these companies can do is provide a refund. Disney and Charter must continue negotiating in good faith to ensure affordability and consumer choice. I also urge Disney to continue providing its programming under the terms of the prior agreement while negotiations continue. My Administration is committed to consumer protections for all New Yorkers.”

Governor Hochul is urging the companies to resolve this dispute as soon as possible. As the contract negotiations continue, more customers are becoming aware of the lapse in certain programming and understandably have questions about refunds.

New Yorkers have lost access to channels that broadcast a variety of different programming, including some of the highest-profile televised events of the year: the U.S. Open, the Bills playing the Jets on Monday Night Football, and family-friendly shows.

The Governor’s directive to the Department of Public Service (DPS) is to reduce confusion and ensure that all customers are refunded. DPS sent a letter to Charter today as part of their efforts to hold the company accountable and swiftly deliver refunds to customers who have been affected by the lapse in Disney-owned programming.

Department of Public Service CEO and Public Service Commission Chair Rory M. Christian said, “Governor Hochul is giving voice to millions of New Yorkers who are frustrated that they cannot view all of their cable channels, and who have a right to be refunded for services that they are unable to access. The Department of Public Service will work diligently to ensure Charter provides customers appropriate bill credits in a timely manner.”