Charter, the nation’s second largest cable operator, early this morning lost Univision, and other Univision-owned cable networks such as El Rey, Galavision, UniMas and the Univision Desportes Network, due to a fee fight.

Univision, which targets Hispanic viewers with a mix of sports, news and entertainment programming, has threatened to remove the signals over a dispute regarding carriage fees. In fact, the broadcaster last summer sued Charter, claiming the cable operator is seeking to pay lower rates previously negotiated by Time Warner Cable, which Charter purchased last year.

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Univision wants Charter to pay a higher rate that Charter negotiated for its subscribers prior to the Time Warner deal.

“Charter Communications has continually rejected all of (Univision’s) repeated, good-faith efforts to reach an agreement,” Univision said in a statement released early this morning. “As a result, Charter has decided to deny its subscribers access to Hispanic America’s most popular entertainment and sports, and most trusted news content…We are ready to resume good faith negotiations immediately and hope Charter will do what is right for its Hispanic customers.”

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Charter said in a terse statement that it still has a contract with Univision “and we expect them to honor it.”

The blackout will affect all Charter subscribers including those in such large markets as New York and Los Angeles. Local Univision channels not owned by Univision will not be affected by the dispute.

— Phillip Swann