Company Town

The business behind the show

« Previous Post | Company Town Home | Next Post »

Cablevision customers fume about missing Oscar telecast

March 7, 2010 |  4:45 pm

Frustrated Cablevision customers in the New York area scrambled Sunday to find alternative ways to watch the Oscars, with many vowing to boycott both the cable company and ABC for leaving viewers in the lurch.

Mason Woodford, a sales associate at a Radio Shack in Patchogue on Long Island, said the store’s phone had been ringing all day with people calling in search of over-the-air antennas. “People keep calling and asking, ‘Do you have anything that can help me get Channel 7?' " he said. But the callers were out of luck – to get WABC’s signal on Long Island, viewers would need outdoor antennas with a 60-mile range. Woodford’s store had three this morning, which quickly sold out.

“They’re normally not in demand,” he said. “Now I guess we need them.”

Jeffrey Cohen, a Cablevision customer in Middlesex County, N.J., read with alarm last week the reports of the standoff between the cable operator and Disney. “I can’t believe there’s no middle ground,” he said. “I don’t see anything in terms of negotiations going on as much as the two sides taking very public potshots at each other, and I don’t think that helps.”

He planned to hook up his Macbook to his television to live stream the Oscars show Sunday night. “I want to be able to get as large of a picture as I can,” said Cohen, a mystery writer who was looking forward to watching the show with his wife and 17-year-old daughter. “It’s kind of a family thing we do every year. We’re all big movie fans.”

So Cohen was taken aback to hear that the show would not be streamed live on the Web. “This throws me for a bit of a loop -- too late to do anything else,” he said. “I guess we'll watch a movie and read about it on the Web. But this really puts me over the edge with Cablevision and ABC. They won't get my business back now.”

Kristin Barbetta, 34, a second-grade teacher in Nutley, N.J., was disgusted that she and other Cablevision customers will miss out on the Oscars.

“Considering what I pay for cable (over $150 a month), and the fact that if I didn't have cable, ABC would be free, I am having a hard time understanding the issue,” she wrote in an e-mail. “As I see it, it seems like a case of ‘if you don't play by my rules, I'm taking my toys and going home’ kind of thing.  Shame on Cablevision AND Disney for acting like such babies.  My second graders act more mature (and they are 7!)  All I know is, if this were happening in my classroom, they would both lose free time AND have to write an apology to the class for their behavior (of course it would also have to be signed by their parents).  Today, Cablevision is offering free On Demand movies...which kind of seems like a parent giving a child a toy in order to appease them or stop an impending temper tantrum.”

Barbetta said she’s watched every Oscars telecast since 1990. In the last few years, she and her friends around the country have held a Facebook party throughout the telecast, commenting on the show. On Sunday night, she’s going to have to forgo the fun. “Instead of spending my evening dishing on horrid outfits with my friends, I'll be watching 'Goodfellas' on AMC,” she wrote. “I won't even get into my anger about missing ‘Lost’ on Tuesday.”

-- Matea Gold