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Battle between Cablevision and Fox looks headed to extra innings

The stage is set for a rematch of last year's big battle. The pitchers are warming up. The hitters are taking their cuts. The managers are trying to figure out the opposing team's strengths and weaknesses.

CablevisionNo, we're not gearing up for a potential rematch of the Phillies and Yankees in the World Series. We're talking about the showdown between News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch's Fox and Cablevision Systems Corp., the New York-based cable operator run by the Dolan family that has over 3 million subscribers primarily in New York City and Long Island.

The deal Cablevision has to carry News Corp.'s television stations expires at midnight this Friday. It is actually an extension of an old deal that the two companies agreed to extend a year ago when they were deadlocked and couldn't reach an agreement on a new pact. The channels whose deals are up are WNYW, the Fox station and WWOR, an independent station. There are also a couple of cable channels involved in the talks including Fox Business, but the sticking point is terms for a deal for the TV stations.

Cablevision has taken to the airwaves and print saying that it already pays News Corp. $70 million every year for its channels and now the media giant wants more than $150 million. It is similar to the strategy that the cable company took with Walt Disney Co. when the two were deadlocked over a new deal for its ABC station in New York and several cable networks including ESPN. In that case, Cablevision argued that it was already paying Disney $200 million a year for its networks and now the company wanted $40 million more. A deal was reached after Disney briefly pulled its channels from Cablevision homes.

In a statement, Cablevision said: "In a difficult economy, it is unfair and wrong for News Corp. to demand huge fee increases from Cablevision customers." A Fox spokesman countered that"contrary to Cablevision’s statements, we are not asking their subscribers to pay any more money. We are simply asking Cablevision for fair compensation."

While both sides are ratcheting up the rhetoric, neither is talking specifics about what terms are being sought. When News Corp. was in a similar squabble with Time Warner Cable, it was seeking $1 per subscriber per month. The two sides reached a deal without any channels being pulled in a multiyear contract that eventually gets close to that figure.

For now, Yankee fans don't have to worry because the American League Championship Series is on TBS. But if the Yanks get past Texas and make the series, things could get ugly fast.

--Joe Flint

For the record. An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the Yankees were facing off against Tampa Bay for the American League Championship. They are playing Texas.

Photo: An ad Cablevision is running critical of Fox.

Comments () | Archives (3)

Hello i just want to offer my opinion on this dish fox price thing . I myself blame fox 100% , we are the people paying to watch there programming so fox cant come to an agrrement with dis so they penalize there customers who watch the shows and who wi9ll be watching there shows after they settle there greedy conflict , in these time i dont think anyone should be price gouging there customers and penaliziig them even though they are the ones paying the dish bill and i know a lot of people out there agree with me , im really fed up with business decisions like this by people like fox sports who seem not to care about depriving there paying customers in order to try and negotiate a better deal for themselves , i think it is really bad business and a slap in the face to the paying public , by running a business like this , i really hope this longggg comment of mine makes it to someone with a conscience at fox , thanks to dish for trying to keep our prices down in these tough times and keep these out of control people like fox to be reasonable . ok ok i know thats enough , MikeRC is done here

This is difficult. As a TV exec, I need every dime I can get my hands on and if it comes from "the gift that keeps on giving"....sub fees, all the better. But as a viewer, I am SOOOOO on the side of Cablevision. Why is my TV service so expensive? Living in NY, I know that a huge chunk of my cable bill ultimately goes into the pocket of Alex Rodriguez and the rest of his Yankee, Met, Knick, Ranger and with the current payments to broadcasters taking hold, in a town full of O&Os, Jet and Giant cohorts....and why?
Its truly ridiculous! I personnally think sub fees should be held to their annual ratings performance in the same way that ad revenues are. When you stink, you get cut. When you put shows on that resonate with viewers, you should be rewarded. Hooray for ATT to tell Hallmark to take a hike. Sub fees today are like teacher tenure.....pay never goes down and stations never get dropped. And like a teacher's union, big media muscles up with multiple big services bringing along weak ones....do we NEED Fox Business? Of course not, yet I pay for it. Why the guaranteed protection? Lastly, why is government not able to help consumers through this stuff? why? Where is the service that gets started that allows viewers to pick and choose? If its out there, I want to meet the people responsible and help them build it out.

Yanks play Texas, not Tampa.


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