Disney Blocks Verizon Custom TV Ads in ‘Skinny Bundle’ Spat

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Walt Disney Co. TV and radio stations rejected ads for Verizon Communications Inc.’s Custom TV amid a dispute over whether the TV service violates contract agreements with major media companies.

Disney’s WABC-TV and ESPN Radio in New York have refused to run the ads, according to Jim Gerace, a spokesman for Verizon. The company received an e-mail from WABC Wednesday saying it wouldn’t run the Custom TV ads.

“WABC-TV will not accept the new Verizon FiOS customized bundle creative,” the Disney-owned station said, according to a Bloomberg review of the text.

Disney, based in Burbank, California, declined to comment on the actions by its stations. A spokeswoman for WABC in New York didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

The move is another setback for Verizon in its dispute with programmers like Disney, Fox Sports and NBCUniversal that have said the carrier doesn’t have the right to offer their networks on Custom TV. Verizon, which started selling the smaller, cheaper pay-TV package on Sunday, has said that it is within its rights under accords with the media companies.

“We would like people to see our ads, our whole objective is to give consumers a choice,” Gerace said.

Custom TV gives viewers a base package of channels for $55 and a choice to add other categories for $10 apiece.

As pay-TV providers are looking to break up the traditional bundles of hundreds of channels, media companies are trying to protect their business, saying their distribution agreements specify that certain popular channels must remain in main, larger packages.

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