Mayor Bloomberg staying mum on Fox-Cablevision feud
Although New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch recently testified together on Capitol Hill about immigration, His Honor won't be doing Fox any favors in its fight with Cablevision Systems Corp.
That's because Bloomberg traditionally recuses himself from media issues. Bloomberg Media, the financial news company the mayor founded, owns a cable network that counts on Cablevision to carry its programming and competes against the Fox Business Network.
So far, neither side has approached anyone in the mayor's office to try to help bring an end to their debate. At issue are fees that News Corp.'s Fox Broadcasting wants Cablevision Systems Corp. to pay to continue to be able to carry its New York television stations WNYW and WWOR. The current deal between the two companies is up at midnight on Friday.
Cablevision has over 3 million subscribers in New York and New Jersey, including in Brooklyn and Queens. If Fox says Cablevision can no longer carry its signals, viewers could miss the New York Giants football game this Sunday. If the feud drags on and the Yankees make the World Series, Cablevision subscribers might have to bring out the rabbit ears or get a satellite dish to see the games, which Fox has the rights to.
Now just because Bloomberg isn't talking doesn't mean the city won't find a way to have a voice in the matter. It would fall to Deputy Mayor Steve Goldsmith to try to encourage both sides to reach some sort of an accord. As of Thursday, Goldsmith has not weighed in, according to Bloomberg spokesman Andrew Brent.
Bloomberg's low-key approach dealing with the spat -- albeit because of his own potential conflicts of interest -- is in sharp contrast to his predecessor Rudy Giuliani. When Time Warner Cable dropped the signal of Walt Disney Co.'s ABC in 2000, Giuliani blasted the cable company, labeling it an "out-of-touch monopoly."
It's not just New Yorkers (and Giants and Yankees fans) who are caught in the middle of this fight. Cablevision also has lots of subscribers in New Jersey who are Philadelphia Phillies fans, and they may have to find alternative viewing options to watch the Phillies battle the San Francisco Giants for the National League championship on Fox. Fortunately for New Yorkers, TBS will be carrying the Yankees-Rangers American League series.
-- Joe Flint
Photo: Mayor Michael Bloomberg and News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch on Capitol Hill. Credit: Jim Watson / Getty Images