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Contract dispute affects thousands in South Florida

Contract disputes regularly occur in Florida and throughout the country. However, most contract disputes between companies are resolved before they affect the public. This is not the case with one recent contract dispute between telecommunications companies AT&T U-verse and WSVN-FOX 7.

In the early morning hours of Jan. 16, AT&T U-verse customers throughout the Miami area saw FOX 7 disappear from their channel lineups. The sudden disappearance of the network is partially the result of the expiration of a contract that occurred just after midnight Saturday. The remainder of the blame is on the two companies that were unable to agree on the terms for a new contract.

Representatives for FOX 7 place the blame for the dispute on AT&T. They claim that AT&T is not willing to pay the company the industry-standard rate for broadcasting the channel. Conversely, AT&T representatives claim that FOX 7 is demanding too much for the rights to its programming. According to recent reports, this dispute is becoming more and more common between stations and broadcasting companies.

If the two companies fail to resolve their contract dispute, the U-verse customers in Miami and surrounding South Florida may find themselves without access to FOX programming. For many of the area's residents, this comes at a bad time, as FOX has the rights to very popular programming, including an NFL playoff game. Fortunately for consumers, the ability to watch the Super Bowl is not threatened; however, without such an important event in the schedule, the chance of the contract dispute being resolved quickly may be small.

Source: Miami Herald, "U-verse customers lose WSVN in a dispute over transmission rights," Monique O. Madan and Glenn Garvin, Jan. 16, 2016

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