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Cablevision makes Fox an offer it hopes can't be refused

October 27, 2010 | 12:24 pm

With the World Series starting in several hours, Cablevision Systems Corp. has made an offer to News Corp. that it hopes will get Fox TV stations in New York and Philadelphia back on its cable systems in time for the opening pitch.

But it may not be an offer that News Corp.'s Fox can't refuse.

In a statement, Cablevison said it would agree to a one-year deal in which it would pay the same price Fox charges Time Warner Cable to carry WNYW-TV New York and WTXF-TV Philadelphia. Fox pulled the signals of its stations from about 3 million Cablevision homes in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut about two weeks ago. Besides the hit shows "Glee" and "House" and NFL football, Fox also the rights to the World Series, which starts Wednesday night.

What Cablevision didn't say is whether it would carry Fox's other New York TV station, WWOR-TV, and its cable channels Fox Business Network and National Geographic Wild.

Cablevision had been carrying those two cable networks and WWOR-TV along with WNYW-TV and WXTF-TV as part of a one-year deal it struck with News Corp. last October.

Time Warner Cable struck a long-term deal with News Corp. earlier this year that includes other cable networks. The price it pays for Fox stations increases throughout the length of the deal. In the first year, the price tag is around 50 cents per subscriber.

The price Fox charges for the TV stations without the cable channels is much higher than that, according to a filing Cablevision made at the FCC detailing negotations between the two companies.

Fox has not yet responded to Cablevision's latest offer. It is also negotiating with Dish Network, the satellite broadcaster that has 14.3 million subscribers nationwide, including over 600,000 in Southern California. The deal for Dish to carry Fox's stations expires in days. Dish and Fox already have a tense relationship. Dish stopped carrying more than a dozen of Fox's cable channels, including all of its regional sports networks.

Although the two sides have indicated they are still far apart, there may have been some progress in the last few days. Both sides said they are still negotiating, but one industry source says a deal could be wrapped up very soon that would not only keep Fox on but also restore the regional sports networks and other cable channels.

-- Joe Flint

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