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What NC Gov. Cooper wants Disney and Spectrum to know about college football fans

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is asking The Walt Disney Company and Charter Spectrum to resolve their differences so sports fans can watch games on cable this season.

Now.

While Spectrum and Disney are fighting over costs and access, cable customers haven’t been able to watch Disney-owned channels, which includes ABC and ESPN.

Because of the companies’ carriage dispute — which removed more than two dozen Disney channels from Spectrum lineups on Aug. 31 — Spectrum cable customers lost out on watching the two biggest college football games of Labor Day weekend, and the season so far: UNC’s big win over the University of South Carolina, and Duke University’s crushing defeat of Clemson University.

Some cable customers have already cut the cord instead of waiting, signing up for streaming services that also have live television, like Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV.

North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye (10) makes a pass as South Carolina linebacker Stone Blanton (52) pressures during the Gamecocks’ season opener against North Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Saturday, September 2, 2023. Sam Wolfe/Special To The State
North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye (10) makes a pass as South Carolina linebacker Stone Blanton (52) pressures during the Gamecocks’ season opener against North Carolina at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Saturday, September 2, 2023. Sam Wolfe/Special To The State

“I write on behalf of many North Carolinians who are frustrated and angry that their football viewing holiday weekend was ruined because of the Charter Spectrum Communications and Disney dispute. Not only did ESPN and the ACC Network go dark, but other popular channels as well,” Cooper wrote in a letter to Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger, ESPN Disney Media Networks President James Pitaro and Charter/Spectrum Communications President/CEO Christopher Winfrey.

“Your customers pay a lot of their hard-earned money to watch your entertainment and most of them don’t care how you divide the profits they help you earn. But they do care that they are now paying for something they’re not getting and they want you to settle this dispute right away. As an avid sports fan myself, I second that sentiment,” he said.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and House Speaker Tim Moore relish in North Carolina’s 81-77 victory over Duke in the NCAA Final Four semi-final on Saturday, April 2, 2022 at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, La. Robert Willett/rwillett@newsobserver.com
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and House Speaker Tim Moore relish in North Carolina’s 81-77 victory over Duke in the NCAA Final Four semi-final on Saturday, April 2, 2022 at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, La. Robert Willett/rwillett@newsobserver.com

Cooper is a noted UNC Chapel Hill fan and alum, and has also given an award to legendary Duke men’s basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski. In 2022, he proclaimed North Carolina the “center of the basketball universe.”

“North Carolinians are passionate about college sports and it’s a severe blow to have the rug pulled out from under them – especially when most people were not expecting it,” Cooper continued.

This isn’t the first time the governor has jumped into the college sports broadcasting debate. In 2022, he pushed for a resolution for carriers of the ACC Network.

This time, Cooper wrote that while fans are willing to pay their fair share, “they are concerned about the fight over corporate profits threatening valued traditions like the return of football season.”

Cooper didn’t come out supporting either side, though, just saying he’s seen what Disney and Spectrum have said about why their opponent is wrong. Saying there’s a resolution out there, Cooper urged them to “get to it soon without using your customers as leverage.”

Duke’s Chandler Rivers (0) and Al Blades Jr. (7) try to intercept a pass by Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik (2), that was deflected at the line of scrimmage in the first quarter on Monday, September 4, 2023 at Wallace Wade Stadium Stadium in Durham, N.C. Robert Willett/rwillett@newsobserver.com
Duke’s Chandler Rivers (0) and Al Blades Jr. (7) try to intercept a pass by Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik (2), that was deflected at the line of scrimmage in the first quarter on Monday, September 4, 2023 at Wallace Wade Stadium Stadium in Durham, N.C. Robert Willett/rwillett@newsobserver.com