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Optimum cable TV operator Altice USA stated it is “hundreds of millions of dollars” apart from ESPN owner Walt Disney in negotiations for a new carriage agreement, and that Walt Disney has threatened to pull other popular networks like ABC and Disney Channel.
Optimum holds cable TV franchise rights for communities extending from Greenwich to Milford on Long Island Sound — including Bridgeport, Stamford and Norwalk — and several towns inland. Optimum also provides service in Torrington and seven other Litchfield County towns.
In a general statement sent Hearst Connecticut Media that was attributed to no single individual, Altice indicated it has offered Walt Disney “a reasonable rate” despite Optimum viewership declining “in the double digits for years” of ESPN programming. It said Walt Disney is demanding “exorbitant” fee increases for ESPN and doubled rates for ABC.
ESPN is among Connecticut’s larger employers with some 4,000 people at last report at its Bristol headquarters studio, representing half its total workforce.
Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; www.twitter.com/casoulman