AT&T's Cicconi calls Univision's discrimination charge 'despicable'

AT&T (NYSE: T) responded aggressively to Univision's charges that the operator has employed a discriminatory "redlining" strategy for its U-verse platform.

"It's unfortunate the owners of Univision not only have blocked U-Verse customers from seeing their channels, but also have stooped to despicable allegations in an effort to extort an outrageous price increase -- an increase which ultimately will come at the expense of all our customers, including Univision viewers," said Jim Cicconi, AT&T's senior executive VPresident of external and legislative affairs, in a statement.

Cicconi's volley comes amid a carriage impasse that has kept the Spanish-language Univision broadcast network, which encompasses 60 stations serving 19 markets, as well as UniMás, Galavisión, and Univision Deportes NetworkCharge, blacked out in the latest dispute in broadcast retransmission licensing renewal.

"Spanish-language channels are important to us and our customers," Cicconi said. "AT&T's focus is to offer a wide range of content for our Hispanic viewers, while keeping cost increases, and bills, down as much as possible. If Univision really cares about their audiences, they will immediately restore their channels to U-Verse homes while we figure this out."

Cicconi directed viewers to visit to to receive the requisite carriage-battle propaganda. \

He was responding to this Univision statement, released Friday: "Despite Univision's tireless efforts to reach an agreement, AT&T is denying its U-verse customers access to our networks and stations, which have the most popular Spanish-language news, sports and entertainment. AT&T is redlining our audience by refusing to recognize the value of the Univision networks and the consumers we serve."

"AT&T's discriminatory behavior is preventing Hispanic America from receiving content and information in language and in culture, which is especially vital during this election year. These disputes can be confusing for consumers, but in our case it's simple: we must receive fair compensation, on par with English language broadcasters," Univision added.

Related articles:
Univision blasts AT&T for 'discriminatory behavior' amid latest retrans-related blackout
U-verse threatened with Univision blackout
AT&T U-verse wind-down goes into overdrive, as vendors feel the pain