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Unable to reach a deal, Fox stations are knocked off of Cablevision Systems

Unable to strike a new deal, the signals of News Corp.'s Fox television stations in New York and Philadelphia disappeared from roughly 3 million Cablevision Systems Corp. homes at midnight on the East Coast.

Fox and Cablevision have been unsuccessfully trying to come to terms on a new deal to keep the New York stations WNYW and WWOR on the cable operator's systems in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut regions. Also gone from Cablevision Systems in New Jersey is the signal of Fox's Philadelphia station. The dispute includes some Fox cable channels but not the Fox News channel.

Both sides blamed the other for the signals coming off while the Federal Communications Commission expressed disappointment that no deal could be struck and that consumers would be left in the lurch. Earlier Friday, the FCC asked both companies to consider extending their talks and agreeing to have an independent mediator try to resolve their dispute. Cablevision said it was willing to do so. Fox said it was not interested in going that route. Talks between the two companies are expected to resume tomorrow afternoon.

Left in the lurch are subscribers who, if the impasse continues, will miss Fox's coverage of NFL football and the National League Championship Series, which features the Philadelphia Phillies. Fox also carries the World Series, which could include the New York Yankees. In other words, if a deal isn't struck soon, it could get very ugly.

Fox blasted Cablevision after the deadline passed, noting that this was the third time this year that a programmer's signals went off Cablevision Systems because of a dispute over programming fees.

"After days of posturing and the appearance of negotiating, they formally stopped even the pretense of negotiating at 8 p.m. –- declaring an “impasse” -– and made no further efforts toward reaching a new agreement before the expiration,” said Mike Hopkins, president of affiliate sales and marketing for Fox Networks.

Cablevision countered that News Corp. has "refused to negotiate in good faith and rejected calls from dozens of political leaders to not pull the plug and join Cablevision in binding arbitration." Charles Schueler, an executive vice president said the company demands that "News Corp. put the viewers ahead of its own greed and immediately restore these channels to our customers and agree to binding arbitration to reach a fair agreement." He then added: "What is News Corp. afraid of?”

In ads critical of News Corp. and Fox, Cablevision is saying that it currently pays $70 million a year for various Fox channels and now is being asked for $150 million. Fox has countered that Cablevision pays itself $124 million a year for its MSG sports channels, which generally have much smaller audiences than those of WNYW and WWOR.

According to people familiar with the talks, Fox wants a deal that will eventually see its channels get in the neighborhood of $1 per subscriber, per month. The long-term deal would probably start at roughly 50 cents per subscriber. A person close to Cablevision says one issue is what Fox wants for several small cable channels, such as Fox Business and National Geographic Channel, as part of a deal for the Fox stations.

"News Corp. is continuing to demand more for Fox 5 than Cablevision pays all of the other broadcast stations combined," Cablevision said.

Fox brass countered that the deal being offered to Cablevision is the same that Time Warner Cable and others have.

Both News Corp. and Cablevision are lining up political support. Several New York and New Jersey politicians were critical of Fox and asking the FCC to intervene. However there were also members of Congress telling the FCC to let the two companies resolve this on their own without government intervention.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski noted that "each year, thousands of agreements between broadcasters and pay-TV providers are reached without interruption of customer viewing" and added that he remains "hopeful that these two companies will do what is in the best interest of consumers and find a way quickly to resolve their differences."

-- Joe Flint


Comments () | Archives (41)

I guess it's just to complicated for the news media to note that some Fox stations were pulled of Dish Network this month by News Corp (owner of Fox) making similar demands and that News Corp is threatening to pull its owned and operated or otherwise controlled 27 local Fox stations off Dish Network November 1.


People should realize that Rupert's basic plan is to control the media worldwide, and this is just another step in a strategy which is well advanced in the UK. His unscrupulous assault in the name of greed has allegedly included tapping phones of celebrities and other public figures to provide cheap content to his cheap tabloids, of which there are several in the UK. Is now making a pitch to take over a huge cable network, undoubtedly to provide unsuspecting brits with the vulgarity of Hannity and OReilly. We should all go back to reading books and purge our system of this transplant.....
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/oct/15/rupert-murdoch-news-of-the-world http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/10/12/world/europe/AP-EU-Britain-Media.html http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/oct/11/vince-cable-news-corp-control-sky

"...without government intervention."

Wow! There's a novel idea but the gov is actually pleased to know that Fox will be aired in less households. LOL!!

There should be a nationwide, "Cancel Your Cable Subscription Day". You can re-new the next day. But imagine the panic from the cable providers and the stations.

Everyone, cancel your cable on the Saturday after Thanksgiving! We have "Black Friday" after Thanksgiving, let's follow it with "Black Out Saturday".

I can't say i'm sorry to see Fox dissapear...They are an arrogant and demeaning corporation that does nothing but expound the views of their owner and radical right wing clones. Hasta la vista baby...

Then you have Fox vs Dish which has resulted in the Fox Sports Network stations being pulled. Which means I have no USC game today as I live in Utah. I'm sure Dish will assure that I'll soon get an additional Martha Stewart option.

couldnt happen to a finer bunch at a better time! C-Ya Roopie!


I wonder where the advertisers, the ones who make FOX broadcasts possible, stand on all this. They're the ones that will be losing out, considering all those eyeballs out there that won't be watching their ads.

I also wonder why we pay to watch programs that aren't commercial-free.

Best thing that ever happened to television. The citizens of New York and Philadelphia are the lucky ones!

The cable companies should also stop transmitting Fox News. I bet Fox will quickly find a compromise soon after that. Their news channel is a propaganda channel and they know they cannot afford to be off the air before the elections.

I am not in the effected area, but as long as cable companies have been given a monopoly over a distinct area, consumers will be the looser in all kinds of dispute. It is time to deregulate areas to allow competition in the market place. We might see this type of problem disappear, and consumers will not be held hostage will corporate bodies bicker over higher rates applied to content, which on the whole, is not worthy of the total cost of cable per customer.

Hey, who cares about the consumers? Fox? They'd pimp their own daughters for a buck. Its all about money for them, which makes them the most despicable sensationalists in a crowded field vying for the Crown of Unmitigated Greed. Cablevision doesn't need them so consumers are out of luck.

And the loss is?

Yeah, what is Fox afraid of? Fox is being greedy, plain and simple. If Cablevision gives in (and Dish Network), other stations/channels will follow too with their own price increases and the cable/satellite customer will be the one that will lose (with even higher prices).

From the lack of comments, I guess no one missed them

Can I please have no Fox channels? I do not watch them as I boycott right wing products when I can. I would PAY a dollar for that.

If they knocked Fox off my station list I'd probably not notice.

and this is why I'm getting rid of satellite as soon as my contract is up.

A pox on both their houses.

Seriously though, I find it hard to muster any sense of sympathy for either the clueless Dolans of Cablevision or the odious Rupert Murdoch.

If only the FCC was more than a 3rd rate dog & pony show....

Too bad. Fox affiliates are not bad while the loss of Faux News would have been good news.

Spare me another money-grubbing battle between two corporations who both make millions from public resources.

News Corp wants to triple dip - charging advertisers, using public airwaves to broadcast and demanding more for retransmission.
Cablevision gets rich charging outrageous equipment rental rates for needlessly-proprietary equipment needed to view content they do not create, distributed for pennies using public easements and back-room deals with hundreds of township and city councils.

If the FCC and local governments had any integrity, they wouldn't be handing golden geese to greedy corporations like Cablefision and New Corp at the expense of human citizens.

I say, if you broadcast content you give up rights to charge for retransmission and both companies should be paying fair market rates for access to the millions of households into which they spew their advertisements.

Nothing wrong with less Fox television.

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