Fox/Cablevision dispute threatens World Series viewing


The blackout of Fox programming going to Cablevision customers continues, and if events in Major League Baseball had transpired differently, you would be able to hear the howls of affected residents all the way to Guam. But neither the AL New York Yankees nor the NL Philadelphia Phillies made it into the Fall Classic.

Still, the event holds a wide amount of interest for baseball fans, who watch every inning of the event year-in and year-out regardless of which teams are participating.

The first game is scheduled for Wednesday, 10/27/10.

Cablevision is seeking government intervention and has indicated it is more than willing to abide by a decision from an arbitrator. Fox, like many broadcasters, feels that its programming is undervalued compared to fees MVPDs pay to non-broadcast programming networks and sees submitting to arbitration as giving up the negotiating power tied to the highly-desirable programming it controls.

Fox is also letting viewers know they have an option if they’d like to watch the World Series – tune in its broadcast television stations off air.

That option if free, nominally, but it would have been simpler before the summer of 2009, when all stations and consumer receiving equipment was analog. Now the stations are digital, but many consumers, particularly those subscribing to MVPDs, are using old analog TV sets, and would require a digital-to-analog converter box to get the channels off-air. Additionally, may viewers would need to acquire an antenna of some sort regardless of what type of set they own.

RBR-TVBR observation: If the World Series is not viewable in the comfort of a Cablevision-connected living room, the first pitch will likely be accompanied by a flurry of irate statements from local politicians. Denial of sports and special event programming is the political third rail when it comes to retransmission battles – and the World Series qualifies as both. If Washington gets involved in this, there’s no telling where it will end up.