The midnight Saturday deadline came and WABC-TV was pulled off of Cablevision’s three million plus subscribing households. But just after 9:00 pm Sunday – in the middle of the Academy Awards broadcast on ABC – a deal was struck and the station restored to Cablevision’s subscribers.
As is usual in these situations, the antagonists were quick to pretend that no animosity had ever existed.
“We are happy to report that WABC Channel 7 has returned to Cablevision’s 3 million New York area homes. We are very grateful to our customers for their support and pleased to welcome ABC back,” said a statement from Charles Schueler, Cablevision’s Executive Vice President of Communications.
“ABC7 and Cablevision have made significant progress and have reached an agreement in principle that recognizes the fair value of ABC7, with deal points that we expect to finalize with Cablevision. Given this movement, we’re pleased to announce that ABC7 will return to Cablevision households while we work to complete our negotiations,” said a statement from WABC-TV.
No terms of the retransmission consent agreement were disclosed. Cablevision had previously paid zero for the right to resell WABC programming to its cable subscribers.
During the 21 hours that WABC was missing from its cable systems, all in the Tri-State area of greater New York, Cablevision had announced that all on demand movies ordered on Sunday would be free to its subscribers.
RBR-TVBR observation: The FCC was wise to stay out of this private business negotiation, as it has with previous retrans disputes. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) should learn to do the same.
What caused Cablevision to come to grips with reality? It could have been many things, but we noticed that the Facebook page it established for subscribers to bash ABC and applaud Cablevision didn’t exactly work out as planned.