Cablevision and WABC continue PR battle


Each side is trying to claim the moral high ground as Cablevision heads toward a deadline of midnight Saturday to come to terms with WABC-TV New York for retransmission consent or remove the ABC Network flagship from its cable systems serving over three million homes in the greater New York area.

Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge accused Disney/ABC of “brinksmanship” by setting the deadline at a Morgan Stanley investment conference in San Francisco. But at the same conference, Cablevision CEO Jim Dolan made a comment that reinforced the view of broadcasters that the MSO just wants to keep making money from them and pay nothing for their content. “Fundamental to this issue right now is our subscribers, our customers, should not have to pay for something others are getting for free,” he said.

“It’s time for Cablevision to stop spinning this issue and get serious about doing right by their customers. The fact is that, over and over again, Cablevision picks fights with programmers, and it is Cablevision subscribers who suffer the loss. The inconvenient truth about Cablevision is that it pockets hundreds of millions of dollars in subscriber fees each year by carrying ABC7. Dropping our station would be the latest insult. Their customers should know they have choices: They can switch service now and take their business to a provider that values them and isn’t threatening them with the loss of programming every few months, or get us free-over-the-air,” said WABC President and General Manager Rebecca Campbell in response to the latest efforts by Cablevision to paint her company as the villain.

RBR-TVBR observation: It appears Jim Dolan is living in the past and refuses to come to grips with the current reality. Retrans is no longer free and never will be again. Get used to it.