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Judge orders temporary restoration of Univision properties to Charter systems

Channels and networks owned by Univision Communications Inc. were restored Thursday afternoon to systems owned by Charter Communications Inc. after a New York judge issued a temporary restraining order, spanning a week, in the companies' carriage dispute.

In a high-stakes battle, Univision pulled the signals for Univision (US)- and UniMás (US)-owned stations and their affiliates, as well as cable networks Galavision (US) and Univision Deportes (US), from Charter systems at midnight on Jan. 31 in carriage contretemps that dates back to last summer.

However, a New York Supreme Court judge ordered that stations and networks be restored for seven days, through Feb. 9.

"Today, the Supreme Court for The State of New York granted Charter a temporary restraining order, meaning that Univision programming will be returned to our customers," Charter said in a statement.

Univision said the order is only in place until the judge permanently assigned to the litigation returns to court.

"For the seven-day period that it is receiving Univision's services, Charter Spectrum will be required to post a bond covering the actual market value of Univision's programming, rather than the inadequate rates that Charter Spectrum has been paying," the Spanish-language media giant said in a statement. "Univision remains ready and willing to meet at any time with Charter Spectrum to engage in comprehensive, good-faith negotiations for the long-term carriage of our stations and networks. To date, Charter Spectrum has steadfastly refused to engage in such negotiations."

The blackout, which had been forestalled through a contract extension that concluded at the end of January, also encompasses the Time Warner Cable Inc. and Bright House Networks LLC systems that Charter acquired in May 2016.

The carriage dispute dates back to July 2016, when Univision filed a lawsuit against Charter alleging that it did not honor its contractual commitments in the wake of a change in corporate ownership following its acquisition of Time Warner Cable in May 2016. Univision said its carriage deal with legacy Time Warner Cable was scheduled to run through June 2022 before the merger, while Charter's deal ended June 30, 2016.

In the legal action, which remains active, Univision contends Charter delayed negotiations and that the MSO insists the programmer's contract with Time Warner Cable is applicable to both cable systems.

Charter maintains that is has a contract with Univision.