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Univision programming goes dark for Verizon Fios subscribers

Programming from Univision Communications Inc. is no longer available to Verizon Communications Inc.'s Fios TV subscribers as the parties have reached an impasse in their contract renewal negotiations.

According to a source familiar with the negotiations, the contract, covering such properties as Univision (US) and UniMás (US) stations, as well as cable networks Galavision (US) and Univision Deportes (US), was originally set to expire at the end of September, but was extended until the afternoon of Oct. 16. The channels went dark at 5 p.m. ET that day.

In a statement, the programmer said the move "came entirely without warning" and that Verizon elected to "take this unprecedented action despite Univision's offer of an extension."

"In light of recent natural disasters and current events impacting the Hispanic community, we are surprised and deeply concerned that Verizon would remove us from its systems — and without warning to its customers," the programmer said. "We urge Verizon to put Univision back on and come back to the negotiating table and prove its commitment to the Hispanic community and show that it understands the value of Spanish-language programming."

Verizon, which counts some 5 million subscribers, issued its own statement, noting that its goal is to provide customers with the best possible TV experience while keeping prices as low as possible.

"Unfortunately, Univision? ?is? ?proposing? ?an increase of more than double what they charge for access to their channels today. In addition to the unfortunate timing of this excessive price increase, we believe the appeal for Univision's programming is waning given their reported declining? ?viewership," the telco said. "We've provided Univision a reasonable offer to continue providing our customers access to their channels. Unfortunately, they rejected that offer and as a result we no longer have rights to bring them those channels."

The news comes as Viacom Inc. and Charter Communications Inc. have reached a short-term extension in their own carriage dispute. The parties' contract was scheduled to expire on Oct. 15, before the companies decided to continue their negotiations.