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Disney's WABC still off in Cablevision homes as feud continues

Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, which pulled the signal of its New York City television station WABC-TV from Cablevision Systems Corp. homes in that region early Sunday morning, said it sent a new proposal to the cable company in hopes of reaching a carriage agreement.

Cablevision countered that it would be willing to enter binding arbitration with Disney over the matter and that the signal should be restored immediately.

CABLEVISION If some sort of accord, temporary or permanent, is not reached soon, Cablevision subscribers in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Long Island and other parts of the tri-state area could be without the Oscars tonight.

Both sides are risking the ire of consumers and the government. ABC likely will take some sort of ratings hit from its decision, which could hurt its advertising as well. Cablevision could lose customers to rival distributors.

At issue are fees that Disney would like Cablevision to pay to carry WABC-TV. Cablevision, which has 3.1-million subscribers in the New York region, has said Disney wants $1 per subscriber per month to carry WABC-TV. Disney has disputed that figure but hasn't elaborated on what fee it is seeking. Cablevision has argued that it already pays Disney $200 million annually for its cable networks including ESPN and Disney Channel and does not want to pay for WABC-TV. Disney counters that deals for its cable networks have nothing to do with the situation regarding WABC-TV.

"We have sent Cablevision a new proposal and are awaiting their response," said Rebecca Campbell, president and general manager of WABC-TV. "If Cablevision is serious about doing right by their customers and returning ABC7 and its programming to them, then they need to act now. The ball is in their court."

Cablevision fired back with its offer of binding arbitration and added that it remains "deeply disappointed that ABC Disney has put their own financial interests above their viewers and pulled the plug on ABC."

The cable company also wants the Federal Communications Commission to get involved, according to Executive Vice President Charles Schueler. Cablevision has "communicated our position to the highest levels of the FCC and urged the agency to appropriately involve itself in this process,” he said.

Typically, the FCC tends to stay out of these corporate disputes. William Lake, the FCC's Media Bureau chief, said the agency has been in contract with both companies and is monitoring the situation. "Consumers should not suffer due to the inability of these two companies to successfully negotiate a deal," Lake said. "We urge both parties to quickly reach a resolution for the benefit of viewers."

In the meantime, Radio Shack and other consumer electronics stores are having a busy Sunday selling antennas to frustrated Cablevision customers who want to watch the Oscars tonight.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: What Cablevision is telling its viewers. Credit: MaryAnne Johanson

 
Comments () | Archives (19)

Frustrated? Yep, you are on the frontlines on a war... the "Programming Wars." You are caught in the middle of a fight between Cablevision and ABC. The most silly twist... it is over what YOU will ultimately pay.

Join with me and sign the petition the switch over to a la carte TV programming. Pick your own channels and pay for what you watch. How American?

http://www.tvalacarte.org/

Go for it ABC! Cable has been stealing broadcaster's signals and selling them to subscribers so they can finance their own programming to put broadcasters out of business.

I agree with James M. We should be able to pick and choose what channels we want to see! It would make a lot of Cablevision customers a lot happier!!!!!!!!!!

I think tons of people who buy antennas may eventually realize they can live with it and save money, and cancel their cable service

- Jeff, a national pro basketball analyst who missed Lakers vs Magic today due to the dispute

I think cablevision should be ashamed at the rates they charge us and what we get. There should be more choices for the consumer. Comcast? VIOS locks you into a two year agreement which is not right either. Sad that cablevision does not care about their customers.

Cablevision has some nerve charging consumers for programming that's available for free. Then again it's to be expected from the a company whose owners don't tip the drivers that deliver their groceries. We're switching to another cable company ASAP!

I think that Disney/ABC in choosing this night to throw their weight around come out looking like a bunch of fat cats that are in serious trouble. I would propose that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences not recognize any work going forward from Disney until they are shown the respect they deserve. To choose to cut 3.1 million subscribers hostage is just plain desperate. All of the hard work that went into all of those films have just been tossed aside because of the greed of a few. Wake up folks. Look around!

I cannot believe the greed your company is seeking. My parents generation was much kinder and television was much more family orientated. Don't your executives make enough money? I will send an e-mail to the FCC and suggest they look deep into your financial earnings and suggest your company be fined and replace your CEO for making the final decision to pull ABC from cable tv. I am shocked that your company would choose greed over your customers. This is a very sad day. I never thought Abc would stoop so low. Your no longer in my opinion a shining company.

I cannot believe the greed your company is seeking. My parents generation was much kinder and television was much more family orientated. Don't your executives make enough money? I will send an e-mail to the FCC and suggest they look deep into your financial earnings and suggest your company be fined and replace your CEO for making the final decision to pull ABC from cable tv. I am shocked that your company would choose greed over your customers. This is a very sad day. I never thought Abc would stoop so low. Your no longer in my opinion a shining company.

I'm angry that ABC decided to pull the plug today out of all days. I am boycotting ABC if Cablevision ever they come back to Cablevision.

it is very upsetting that we customer always are the one to paid for people who are just hungry for power because that is what comes down to both paties forget the fact that without customer non of then have nothing and in the meantime i have to miss my shows like so many other people i had a lot more respect for channel 7abc and its news now they have loose me as a viewer. i know what they care but i am sure that there is more peple that shares my opinion or similar one.

I think it is a sin that your company can hold we consumers as hostage over costs.!!! I pay dearly for a gold package with your company as i think most of your customers do..We DESERVE better treatment...this has something to do with network television but CABLEVISION our provider blatantly discontinues channels to paying supscribers ...is this some kind of illegal activity that should be reported to the government's "Consumer Protection Board"???? This is a total travesty....that you people can get away with this...I am only hoping and praying that my fellow consumers have had about enough of this as I..I live out in eastern suffolk and as is you hold the monopoly on television by telling everyone to turn in their old t.v.s...
and purchase boxes for every t.v. in the home....now your eliminating channels at your discretion???..This has got to be against the law..i will search it out..as i work in the legal system...!!!!!!!Your not so satisfied customer..oh of a " Gold Package" no less.....Get with it you provide a service; buck up or shut up...!!

Dick McMahon,

Why should I, as a Cablevision customer, have to see my monthly bill go up because I now have to pay for a channel that broadcasts for free and also puts their content online for free? I don't even watch ABC! I agree with those who argue for ala carte. This is just about Disney wanting to gouge a regional cable provider who already pays them 200 million a year for their Cable networks (ESPN, ABC Family etc).

There is no stealing. It's a free broadcast.

Without the Oscars? Oh come on, maybe people will come to realize the lost art of the antenna. Get a cheap DTV converter if you don't have a digital TV and just watch a picture with same quality if not better (if you can receive the OTA signal).

Fact is, free channel, should be free to cable too. I got so sick of the greed, that for every channel that pulls this crap, I boycott them. I'm not into TV enough to worry about a show missing from my lineup. I can just easily go read a book.

Just yesterday I received my monthly cable bill to find that it has been increased by $20.00 per month. Today, I wake to find that channel 7 has been removed from viewing.
It's kind of ironic that before cable channel 7 was free to watch at any time. First HGTV was dropped for a period of time and NOW channel 7---you should be ashamed of your selves!!!!!!!

Oh Noes!!! People might miss a dumb awards show! Someone call the military!!!! Get Superman!!!!

Just do what I did when my cable was out to watch the news if you have a digital TV, analog TV with a DTV converter box, or an HDTV, connect a set of rabbit ear antennas to the TV or DTV converter box, scan for channels, and flip the channel to New York Channel 7-1/7.1 and you can watch them for free. I was stuck to doing this 2 years ago because my satellite TV provider wasn't airing the Super Bowl channel in HD when the digital over the air signal was HD capable.

I cannot believe the greed I am witnessing right now both at abc and cablevision.
In this day and age think of us little people who are struggling to make ends meet and two entertainment giants are fighting to get more money!!!!! I am appalled by this standoff . Once again who suffers us the public who already pay high cable bills. GIVE US A BREAK!!!!!!

One question; WHO CARES???


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