Q. I remember you wrote awhile back that Comcast would remove Starz from our TV packages this week. Is that happening? Will we get it back if they do? — Sheila, Boston.
Sheila, Comcast announced in October that on December 4 it would add the Epix premium channel to most programming packages. But on December 10 (today), it would remove all 17 Starz channels (including Encore) from those packages, effectively replacing the channel with Epix. (Starz is the home of such shows as Outlander and Power.)
Well, Comcast added Epix on December 4, but Starz will stay in the cable operator’s programming packages at least until the end of the month.
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What gives? As you probably guessed, the two companies are negotiating a new contract and the earlier threat to remove Starz on December 10 was part of the back-and-back that goes on in these things.
“We are still trying to negotiate a deal with Starz that makes sense for us and our customers,” Comcast spokesman John Demming tells the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Starz and (some) StarzEncore content will remain in customer packages until the end of the month under our current agreement.”
This doesn’t mean that Starz will still be on Comcast starting January 1. But it does suggest the companies are making progress in signing a new carriage agreement.
What’s unclear, however, is whether a new agreement would call for Starz in stay in its current packages, or only be available as a separate a la carte option.
By the way, speaking of Epix, Comcast on Thursday (December 12) will add three more Epix channels: Epix Drive-In, Epix Hits and Epix 2.
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— Phillip Swann