Fox stations still dark on Cablevision


The dispute between both companies came to dead end as the clock hit midnight Saturday 10/16/10, and Fox stations programming went dark from the homes that subscribe to Cablevision.

The dispute hits three million Cablevision subscribers in the New York and Philadelphia metro areas.

So over the weekend: NO Saturday National League Championship Game 1 between the Phillies and the Giants series; NO Sunday NFL Football plus all the programming Fox provides.

Cablevision declared it an impasse and refused to negotiate further after 8 p.m. local time 10/15. Cablevision said in a statement that Fox failed to negotiate in good faith and called the decision to remove the programming a black eye for broadcast television in America.

“We deeply regret that Cablevision refuses to recognize the value of our programming,” said WNYW FOX5 and WWOR MY9 Vice President and General Manager Lew Leone. “Given the current circumstances, we encourage our viewers to visit or call 1-866-KEEP-FOX to learn of alternate providers in their area.”

Fox noted on that same website it has submitted numerous proposals to the cable operator in an effort to secure an agreement. However, Cablevision has refused to negotiate in good faith and rejected all of Fox’s offers. “In an effort to avoid this very situation, we started this process in May and made numerous reasonable proposals to Cablevision,” said Mike Hopkins, President, Fox Networks Affiliate Sales and Marketing. “However, we remain far apart and Cablevision has made it clear that they do not share our view regarding the value of Fox’s networks.  After days of posturing and the appearance of negotiating, they formally stopped even the pretense of negotiating at 8pm – declaring an “impasse” – and made no further efforts toward reaching a new agreement before the expiration. We remain willing to negotiate and hope that future talks ultimately will be productive, but as of now Cablevision has declined to counter our most recent proposal.  Regrettably, their efforts were focused more on calls for government intervention than constructive negotiations.”

Friday, 10/15/10, the FCC offered mediation but seems both sides blamed each other for the dispute. The two media mega powers have been locked in negotiation over retransmission consent which delivers Cablevision the right to carry local programming from Fox stations including WNYW Channel 5 in New York City, WOR channel 9 in NYC, WTXF 9 Philadelphia. All viewers see now is a dark screen.

Cablevision customers will also lose access to Fox Business, Nat Geo Wild and Fox Deportes. But the dispute doesn’t affect Fox News, FX and local sports channels.

Cablevision said News Corp. wants more than $150 million a year in retrans fees for the Fox stations and some cable channels, up from $70 million a year it already pays the media company. Fox said it wants “fair compensation.” The media company is also reportedly seeking $18.4 million a year for Fox Business, $14.7 million for Nat Geo Wild, and $2.3 million for Fox Deportes.

Cablevision is also asking viewers to email News Corp. over the dispute, via website it created with the following wording: “Dear News Corp: In these economic times it is wrong and unfair to demand $150 million in fees from Cablevision and its customers. Put FOX 5 and My9 back on the air and negotiate a deal that is fair for everyone!”

After the cut-off, Cablevision in another statement, called on News Corp. to submit the dispute to a third party: “We demand that News Corp. put the viewers ahead of its own greed and immediately restore these channels to our customers and agree to binding arbitration to reach a fair agreement.”

“I remain hopeful that these two companies will do what is in the best interest of consumers and find a way quickly to resolve their differences,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in his own statement.

RBR-TVBR has reported on numerous retransmission disputes and they usually go down right to deadline and then a deal is stuck In the case of Cablevision and FOX both sides are now playing hardball.  See: Fox/Cablevision talks getting political attention