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Starz' New GC Hits the Ground Running

By William Vogeler, Esq. on January 19, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Audrey Lee is not just stepping into the lead role as general counsel for Starz, the entertainment network.

Lee moved over from Lionsgate, the company's corporate parent where she served as deputy general counsel. In accepting the new assignment, she said she looks "forward to helping chart the course for business during a time of rapid change for our industry."

But just as soon as she walked into her office, Starz promptly filed for emergency injunctive relief against a cable company that turned off its programs. Lee has hit Beverly Boulevard running.

Altice Pulled the Plug

Starz has been wrangling with Altice USA, a cable provider in New York, since September over program changes. Altice pulled the plug on the Starz channels on New Year's Day, and the network responded with a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission.

"To our great disappointment, and to the disappointment of Altice customers, Starz and its affiliated channels continue to remain off the air in New York," said Starz CEO Chris Albrecht.

The company says the distributor and its Cablevision subsidiary should have given 30-days' notice under FCC rules. Altice said Starz was trying to raise its rates even after launching its own streaming service.

"Given that Starz is available to all consumers directly through Starz' own over-the-top streaming service, we don't believe it makes sense to charge all of our customers for Starz programming, particularly when their viewership is declining and the majority of our customers don't watch Starz," an Altice spokeswoman said.

Back to Regular Programming

Meanwhile, Albrecht welcomed Lee's experience at Starz.

"Audrey's broad legal experience in the entertainment industry makes her the ideal choice to lead the Starz legal team as the network evolves and thrives with the growing original programming slate," he said.

Lee began her career at Latham & Watkins, handling mergers, acquisitions, intellectual properties, and related matters. She went on to Son Pictures Entertainment, where she handled legal matters relating to home entertainment and television.

At Lionsgate, which acquired Starz in 2016, she served as deputy general counsel and executive vice president. She worked with senior management on legal issues involving location-based entertainment, merchandising and gaming, and mergers and acquisitions.

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